A Vacation and a News Story

I really didn’t want to be the 9,765,482nd blogger writing about Terri Schiavo. I barely know anything about the case, but what I know about it tells me that half her problem is that 9,765,482 people are interested, and a couple hundred of them have elected posts in the federal government. (The other half of her problem is that she’s a vegetable.) So I was going to write about my vacation to the Bahamas instead.

But the thing is, the Bahamas is lovely to go to, but not very interesting to talk about. Want to know what happened? There was sunshine. Lots of it. There was lolling about poolside. The combination of these two factors led to the copious application of sunscreen, which was, for the most part, successful. There was the eating of much shellfish. There were the endless security lines. But mostly there was the sun and the water and the sunscreen. Not very thrilling for you my readers (all two of you).

The Terri Schiavo case, on the other hand, has meat. Lots of meat. I’m just going to take a little bite. And it is to say this: Monsieur le Presidente, this “culture of life” of which you and your cronies cannot stop speaking – will it be arriving in Afghanistan or Iraq any time soon? What about your old state of Texas, responsible for so many of the death penalty executions in this country?

What’s that you say, Mr. President? That’s different? There are situations in which life must be sacrificed for some other purpose? Especially if that life belongs to someone darker than us? Huh. Interesting. A person’s own better interest, a person’s own request, to die instead of being kept alive by life support, is not a good enough purpose?

No, you say, Senor el Presidente? (In case you can’t tell, I don’t speak Spanish.) Would I be in support of suicide in general, you ask? Well, not exactly, no. I do find suicide understandable and lamentable at times. But “supporting” or not “supporting” suicide is a bit beside the point. The problem with people committing suicide is not in the act itself. It’s the despair that leads them to the act that’s a problem. Sometimes, that despair is relatively personal and psychological, and therefore, what we, as a society, must do to demonstrate our lack of support for suicide is ensure that access to psychological and psychiatric care is easy and affordable, that there are no stigmas attached to seeking such care, and that there is widespread knowledge about the access to such care. Sometimes, that despair is a bit more societal, say, when gay teenagers feel despair at the way society will discriminate against them (aHEM, President Bush) and thus commit suicide in record numbers. That’s also something we need to work on. (AHEM! Geez, I hate it when I have this big a frog in my throat, Mr. President.) My stance on suicide is similar to my stance on teen pregnancy and STI transmissions – I’m not “in favor” of those things; but mostly what I’m not in favor of is the things that lead to those things – lack of education and access to contraception. But I already know you and I don’t see eye to eye on this one, Mr. President & Co.

In Terri Schiavo’s case, the (presumed and supported by her husband) desire for suicide has roots in the despair over her medical condition. Her medical condition cannot be helped. Medical science, as a rule, makes advances everyday, so we’re already working on preventing as many future Terris as possible, but Terri herself can no longer be helped. So why are we forcing her to live with the despair? Why isn’t that just as good a cause as anything you use to justify mass killings, Mr. Bush?

And that’s all I’m going to say about that.


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