Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bad choices

I've seen a few references in the blogsphere about Terri Schiavo recently (most were off-hand references), and it brought to mind something that's been bugging me.

When the big battle was brewing over whether Terri's stated desires would be followed, or whether her parents could force her to continue to undergo medical treatments, there were a lot of lies flying around out there. I know some otherwise intelligent and skeptical people who fell for a lot of those lies.

There were a lot of people with really strong feelings about the case, on both sides, and that was okay. I mean, it was frustrating... the facts of the case were entirely on the side of removing her feeding tube. But with so much misinformation going around, it was expected that some folks would get confused.

But then Jeb Bush, the Florida Legislature, and finally, George W. Bush and the United States Congress got involved. Now, at first, I thought it was natural for them to get involved, given the intense interest being drummed up by the case. And I understood how they got the wrong impression of the case. There was a lot of misinformation being given.

Later, though, I realized just how stupid I was being.

Look, if laypeople are confused about the case, that's one thing. But these are the people whose lives revolve around the law, and how the law affects our lives. Not only do they have greater responsibility to be sure about the effects of their actions, they have a greater responsibility to understand the law.

While a "Blogger for Terri" can be excused for saying that Michael Schiavo went to court to request his wife's feeding tube be removed, the Florida Legislature, Jeb Bush, the Congress, and President Bush, can't be excused. They know to check the court records about such things, and they know how to check the court records, and have access to those records.

They could have discovered that the case had been decided properly, and could have discovered how many of the claims being made were lies. They didn't.

And why not?

Look, I don't care how many of them were personally pro-life, or evangelical, or whatever other special-interest group they belonged to, and I don't care how much they wanted to pander to the pro-life, or evangelical, or whatever other special-interest groups. Personal beliefs, and pandering to special interest groups, are no excuse for not learning about what's going on.

So, we're left with two possibilities.

First, they didn't know what was going on, and didn't bother to learn, and butted into the lives of private citizens for no good reason. This is inexcusable, especially for those who pretend to be conservative.

Second, maybe they did know.

Did they think it was a terrible injustice? Or did they think that it had played out properly and lawfully?

Let me rephrase that question. Did they consider that the case had been wrongly (but lawfully) decided, and decide that the laws were unjust, and needed to be changed? Or did they decide that the case had been decided lawfully, and the laws were essentially okay, which would make their actions pure political grandstanding?

Well, there's an easy way to determine the answer for this. What laws have they passed, or introduced, to change the situation? What have they done to rectify the great injustice that they were defending against, if they thought it was an injustice?

Oh, right... they haven't. Once they realized that the majority of the country thought they were wrong to interfere, they dropped it like a hot potato. They didn't think there was a great injustice; they thought it was a great wedge issue to use against the Democrats.

It must suck to be a conservative Republican these days... you end up with choices like this. Do you hope that your elected officials are totally incompetent busybodies, or the kinds of assholes who would violate the rule of law to try to score political points?

I hope the Republicans crash and burn this election cycle, so that someday, real conservative Republicans can start running again.

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