Bigotry and the murder of Terri Schiavo

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Here is a stunning essay in the Harvard Crimson by Harvard student Joe Ford. Joe has severe cerebral palsy, bad enough that people assume he is cognitively disabled because of his articulation and muscle tone. Only have time enough for one excerpt:

The result of this disrespect is the devaluation of lives of people like Terri Schiavo. In the Schiavo case and others like it, non-disabled decision makers assert that the disabled person should die because he or she—ordinarily a person who had little or no experience with disability before acquiring one—“would not want to live like this.” In the Schiavo case, the family is forced to argue that Terri should be kept alive because she might “get better”—that is, might be able to regain or to communicate her cognitive processes. The mere assertion that disability (particularly cognitive disability, sometimes called “mental retardation”) is present seems to provide ample proof that death is desirable.

Essentially, then, we have arrived at the point where we starve people to death because he or she cannot communicate their experiences to us. What is this but sheer egotism? Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, this is obviously an attempt to play God.

Hat tip to Sierra Faith.

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» Terri Schiavo roundup from

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» Of Course Nazi's just killed 'em... from Kevin McCullough

My good blog bud in Oklahoma - Michael Bates of BatesLine - pointed me to this VERY important piece which appeared in the Harvard Crimson yesterday. Penned by Joe Ford who himself is severely disabled it shows important historical parallels between how... Read More


R. said:

For some, death *is* desirable in the case of mental retardation or disability. One person very close to me has expressed repeatedly that she would not want to live if she were in Terri Schiavo's condition. The court ruled that Terri made such wishes known to her husband, which is why we are where we are today. Not everyone's going to have the same view as the disabled Harvard student.

As for "playing God," we humans do that all the time anyway. God gave us free choice, which means we can be active in our day-to-day existence -- and others'. God is a largely inactive creature, or acts in such subtle ways that we don't notice. So we're free to figure out how to best live our lives -- even if the book, the Bible, that is supposed to guide us is often archaic and/or contradictory.

I have a brother that has cerebral palsy, and I assure you, he does not want to die. He also happens to be deaf. He does not blame God for his condition. On the other hand, he praises God for his condition, in that it has made him one of the strongest people I have ever known. It is well known that so-called "disabilities" only enhances the affected person's other "abilities."
I disagree that God is "inactive" or the Bible is "archaic".
Playing God is irrelevant. No one can equate to God. We are, by nature, evil. Evil breeds selfishness, and selfishness breeds disregard and contempt for what some view as "weakness." People killing people is not playing God, it is people desiring to dominate in an evil way, and the by-product is death.

tgibbs Author Profile Page said:

The fact is that a lot of people, including me and all of my family, would not like to live like that. Indeed, so far I have not met anybody who would. I am aware that some people who are disabled in one way or another are afraid of respecting individual choice in this matter, based upon a "slippery slope" argument that culminates in people disabilities being put to death against their will. I understand their fear, but I actually believe that the greatest risk is not in allowing euthanasia, but in permitting the government to override personal choice, whether it is the choice to live or the choice not to live. It is worth noting that President Bush, who intervened to override what multiple courts have found to be Terri Schiavo's wishes, also signed a Texas law that permits hospitals to override a family's wishes to withdraw feeding tubes and other life support from severely ill patients.

The Nazi angle seems to me the most scurrilous form of guilt by association: Anybody who wants the trains to run on time must be evil, because Mussolini made the trains run on time and the Nazis used railroad trains to ship people to concentration camps to be murdered.

Warren said:

Well said, tgibbs. Thank you for highlighting the president's hypocrisy on this issue.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 29, 2005 7:54 AM.

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