Thursday, March 31, 2005

The End of the Terri Schiavo Case – or- Protesters Are Dumb.

So after 14 days of court battles – the Terri Schiavo case has come to its eventual end. At 9:05 Thursday March 31st, Terri Schiavo passed on into eternity. It was a story that could have no winners – and no matter who won or lost – it would end the same way. Granted her death came much sooner since her feeding tube removed, but she was never going to get better. Terri would never be the same and in almost every single instance the Terri that family and loved ones knew was gone. Medically she could have lived on – probably doubling her age, eventually spending more of her life in a vegetative state then as an alert person. But the sad fact is that as the story became bigger it became less and less about Terri. As soon as the media sunk its teeth into the story and a mob of professional protester came out, government leaders stepped in, and the Vatican sounded off she simply became a tool. The worst part many of those speaking out didn’t even know what they were speaking out against, many who were on the front lines protesting didn’t even understand what was going on.

The Bad

I’ll side with some conservative pundits here and place some blame on the media, especially television. The news media has really played a large part in the manipulation of the public. For the last three weeks video of Terri has aired showing her blinking at her mothers voice, and reacting to outside stimulus. However none of this video was placed into context. First it was all from 2002 and 2003. So at this point it is still two to three years old. Second the video was only glimpses at the Schiavo case. However I must give some kudos to CNN they began putting the date on the file video they were using. Yet it was a side note in the hours of video they repeated as the story took center stage on the 24-hour news channels. They were twenty and thirty second clips from hours of video – the clever work of an excellent public relation guy giving the media only what would support their cause. Since television is a visual medium pictures ran from years ago along side still pictures of her when she was cognizant. So when you looked at the coverage of Terri Schiavo – you see a woman who seems to be responding – fueling the family’s argument their daughter can be saved.

Live shots by reporters are on the front line with a wall of protesters behind them, the occasional sound from Michael Schiavo made him sound like more of an execution then a ‘loving’ husband who wanted to bring peace after 15 years to his wife.

The Ugly

Back to the protesters. Many collected outside carrying crosses - beating drums representing Terri’s heartbeat. People carrying signs calling Michael Schiavo and the doctors murders for removing her feeding tube and promising them a warm spot in hell.

On Easter there was a pair of zealous Catholics – who security forces stopped from breaking into to Terri’s hospice room and delivering her communion. This is the type of thing I am talking about. There was a protester arrested yesterday for trying to smuggle water in for Terri. The people just didn’t really understand the state Terri Schiavo was in. She has been (according to court doctors) in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years. While she was conscious none of her movements were voluntary. She could not swallow on her own if anyone had tried to give her water she would have most likely drowned – since her body could not swallow the liquid. More zealous people fighting for a cause blindly – rallying behind a call of murder – when to other it is simply seen as mercy – or the circle of life.


The government. There is a war on last I checked, an oil for food scandal, a gas crisis, inflation and the government our elected leaders intervened in this families personal affairs (and steroids in baseball but that’s another gripe for another day), and used her as a political tool. Would the President have gotten involved if his brother Jeb wasn’t governor of Florida? Who knows? But congress, the President and about every other political figure weighed in on the issue hoping to score points with moral value conservatives. I expect to hear her name brought up around election time – you can bet on that Terri is to good of a political tool to let go this easy. We will wait and see on this one.

The Good

Terri Schiavo has served as a wake up call for the nation. She was on the tip of everyone’s tongue in many people thoughts – and became a mini celebrity – and used it while unknowingly to bring words like living will and health care proxy out of hospices and senior homes and into the main stream. Will anything be learned from this? I’m sure there is a nice sized group of people that will sign up for living wills or proxies and make plans of their future. However this is still not something many think of till it is too lake. Terri was young – and most of the controversial cases in this field are – and when you’re young even in your late twenties early thirties you still don’t think it can ever happen to you. Terri Schiavo may have captured the nations attention for a few weeks but we will see how deep into the American psyche her case will really strike. Again, only time will tell, and of course – we will never find out about all of the people who have their wishes are carried out because they filled out a living will. All who learned from Terri’s situation will never have a voice in the media – we will only here from those who didn’t learn this lesson. Sad but true.


Blogger Jenn said...

Trevor - you are right about the "good" coming out of this. My mother sent me an email telling me to think clearly about what I would want done in such a situation, about having a living will, and to carefully pick who I want as my 'Go-To' person for such delicate decisions. Do you think it was insensitive of me to tell my very catholic mother that I want her to unplug me, donate my organs, and then cremate me? Of course, she did reply with a "FINE I'll donate your organs to the highest bidder on ebay." So really my point is - at least we are all discussing this out in the open, and with tact :)

April 05, 2005 8:25 AM  

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