Thursday, March 17, 2005

Terri Schiavo: or, Why I hate the AP (Part 1 of 43,752, give or take)

I've struggled about whether it is immoral for a Christian to hate an institution. Given that 1 John 2:15 says, "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him," I'm leaning towards "Not necessarily."

Which is good, because I've really grown to hate, loathe, and despise those manifestations of "the world" known as the "mainstream media" (MSM). Reuters and the venerable Associated Press (AP) are frequent offenders -- using "frequent" in the sense of "constant."

Now, the way these agencies show their suffocating bias is usually somewhat subtle, so that they can imagine a sort of plausible deniability. Rarely is one of their mouthpieces found gushing like Dan Rather to the Clintons, "Mr. President, if we could be one one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been together in the White House, we'd take it right now and walk away winners." Their arrogance allows occasional slip-ups of that nature; but mostly, they glide along under a silky, slimy cloak.

As has been often observed, the media seek to control perception by the terms they choose and reject, and by what they do and do not report.

I adduce as the latest example of both the article House Passes Bill to Delay Schiavo Case.

The truth doesn't even make it out of the first sentence intact: "The House passed legislation late Wednesday intended to delay the removal of the feeding tube keeping alive a brain-damaged woman whose husband has been given permission by a state court to allow her to die."

"Allow her to die." Just roll that one around in your brain for a moment: "Allow her to die." No hard words, there. The meaning is clear, unambiguous. In this phrase, we are being informed by the arbiters of all truth and reality (the MSM) that this woman is trying to die, but someone or something has been preventing her. Thanks to the courts, this obstacle will be removed, and she will be "allowed to" do what she has been trying to hard to do.

"Allowed to die."

Of course, this is nonsense. You'll not see me linking often to Roman Catholic priests, but in this case I think that Robert Johansen has done a terrific job of bringing out the crucial, yet thunderously under-reported, facts of the case. (Hat-tip to Hugh Hewitt.) Terri Schiavo is able to do everything essential to life all by herself -- except feeding herself. She is dependent on others for that. I've never read that she tries to prevent it or indicates that she's unwilling to receive food.

Yet we're told the court has ordered that she is to be "allowed" -- allowed! -- to die.

Think a moment further. Here is a young woman who gives every indication of wanting to live, but the court will "allow" her to die by depriving her of one of the essentials of physical life. Now, you and I would die just as surely if we were deprived of food, of water, of air. Would that be "allowing" us to die?

This is rhetorical perversity worthy of a Mengele. By that logic, we're all dying, we're all trying to die; we're simply being prevented from achieving death by regular intake of food, water, air, and by a functional body. By that logic, a strangler is "allowing" his victim to die when he deprives him of air.

Think still further. If a judge, apparenly totally unconcerned about some pivotal facts of the Schiavo case, can simply decree (against the evidence) that this woman wants to die and must be "allowed" to die -- then who can't they do this to? Terri Schiavo not been given all sorts of care and therapy that might improve the quality of her life, and now she is sentenced to a slow, miserable, painful torture-death the likes of which we do not even inflict on known terrorists. By all appearances, Terri Schiavo's only crime is that she is inconvenient for her disgusting, philandering husband.

"Allowed to die" says the AP, trying hard to control perception by choice of words.

These gatekeepers of truth then employ the tactic of selective reporting. They report that "court-appointed doctors say she is in a persistent vegetative state." This may be true... in the sense that "a duly-appointed government representative found Jesus guilty of a capital offense" is also true.

The problem is in what is not reported.

Going on Johansen's article alone, the AP don't mention that these doctors made this determination without tests that would have either verified or contradicted its validity. They don't mention that a host of medical professionals, including over a dozen board-certified neurologists, have stated that Schiavo should be re-evaluated. Consider this exchange, related by Johansen:

In the course of my conversation with Dr. Morin, he made reference to the standard use of MRI and PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans to diagnose the extent of brain injuries. He seemed to assume that these had been done for Terri. I stopped him and told him that these tests have never been done for her; that Michael had refused them.

There was a moment of dead silence.

“That’s criminal,” he said, and then asked, in a tone of utter incredulity: “How can he continue as guardian? People are deliberating over this woman’s life and death and there’s been no MRI or PET?” He drew a reasonable conclusion: “These people [Michael Schiavo, George Felos, and Judge Greer] don’t want the information.”

But the AP does not elect to report any of this. Why? Presumably because that isn't the story they want to tell. It isn't the story they want us to hear, or know about. They want us to know about some religious fanatic parents who, against all reason and Science, are trying to prolong the suffering of this young woman who just wants to be left alone and die. She's hopeless because "doctors" have said so. (I have often noticed that the word "some" evidently is not in the AP style-book -- as in "some doctors," "some environmentalists," "some scientists.")

So let's just help the AP, and fix their propaganda to something a bit more accurate. Here we go: "The House passed legislation late Wednesday intended to delay the removal of the feeding tube keeping alive an apparently brain-damaged woman whose husband has been given permission by a state court to starve her to death over as long as a two-week period."

There. That's better.

The reporting is better, that is. The story, however, is nauseatingly horrid.

The difference is now the reader can see that fact.

UPDATE I: Well, I mentioned "Reuters," a Usual Suspect if ever there was one. Not to be outdone by the AP, their article's headline reads Bush, Congress Set to Act in Right-To-Die Case. Of course, calling it a "Right-To-Die" case frames, and thus controls, the debate. It is interpretive. Framed that way, this poor young woman is just struggling to die, and now Bush and Congress (led, as the article informs us, by -- brr-r-r-r-r-r-r! -- Christian conservatives) are going to keep her from her heart's desire. A more accurate phrase would be "Right-To-Be-Starved-To-Death-by-Your-Adulterous-Husband," or "Right-to-Have-Your-Inconvenient-Wife-Killed-Slowly-but-Legally." But that wouldn't fit Reuters' agenda.

UPDATE II: Very thoughtful interview with Robert P. George, the McCormick professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University and a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, here. I am sickened at the Clinton-appointed federal judge's decision to continue starving this inconvenient but very alive (for now) woman. Scott Ott points out the insanity of this with a devastating parody "article," Parents Offer Trade: Terri Schiavo for Scott Peterson. He makes the point: we treat convicted murderers better than we are treating this disabled wife of a cheating louse.

UPDATE III: The darkening hours of this shameful event have brought out still more pithy observations from some of our nations thinkers.

Michelle Malkin levels a characteristically withering and on-target blast against the lamestream media giants, including this little drop of richly deserved acid: "On a fundamental matter of life and death, the MSM heavyweights have proven themselves utterly incapable of reporting fairly."

Thoughtful liberal (-- a phrase you'll not see me write very often) legal expert Jonathan Turley has an essay which includes a very moving personal reflection, though I disagree with his specific opinion on the Schiavo matter. He is generally absolutely right that Congress should not interfere with family matters. However, we all recognize that this imperative is not absolute. We all acknowledge a right to interfere when there is abuse, say, of a child, a spouse, an elder. In this case, that is a vital and legitimate concern.

Cal Thomas weighs in, characteristically highlighting some of the thematic concerns of this heartwrenching case.

John O'Sullivan substiantiates his claim that Those in a rush to kill Schiavo [are] ignoring facts of case.

Finally, Hugh Hewitt's observations have featured Hugh at his best: hard-hitting, passionate, on-target, and weighty. Keep checking back on him as this unfolds.

UPDATE IV: Sharp Knife provides a blistering list of "if's," including:

If Terry Schiavo had only starred in "Superwoman", we'd find a way not to kill her.
...If she were a killer, she'd be protected under the supreme court's ban on executing the retarded.
If she were a terrorist, Teddy Kennedy would be making blistering speeches on the Senate floor condemning her torture-by-starvation.
...If she were Scott Peterson, she'd get an automatic appeal...and 20 more years of life.
If she were a beached dolphin, we'd demand not just her feeding, but that heroic measures be taken.
If she were in Guantanamo, we'd see to it that she had appropriate meals and medical care.
...If we do this, then let's Free Dr. Kevorkian; he's in jail for less.

(Hat-tip to Stones Cry Out.)

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