Friday, April 01, 2005

my only schiavo post

so terri schiavo passed away yesterday. she can finally rest in peace after having been essentially held captive inside a brain-dead shell for the past 15 years. and the corporate media has a new morbid deathwatch to pursue mercilessly, as the pope is reportedly on his death bed and has received the sacrament of extreme unction (i always thought that was a cool-sounding name, but it's a bad sacrament to receive because it essentially means you're preparing for the possibility of death).

it was a disgusting display to watch, but a couple good things did come out of it:
  • the radical right-wing put on a display so outlandish and shameful that it (along with other trends) is seriously damaging the republican party... many "real" conservatives are disgusted by the crass disposal of actual conservative values such as state's rights, while many evangelicals think bush (gw) and bush (jeb) are traitors for not doing more to save terri, comparing them to pontius pilate and such

  • it inspired many, many people to talk about right-to-die issues, living wills, power of attorney, etc with their loved ones, so that they won't be put through what terri was

  • it inspired an actual good episode of south park (and those are much more rare than they once were, so they are indeed reason to celebrate)

anyway, a lot of people are linking to this eric boehlert article on salon about the schiavo media circus, and with good reason: it's awesome.

It was fitting that reporters were in danger of outnumbering pro-life supporters outside Terri Schiavo's hospice in Pinellas Park, Fla., on Thursday morning. When one man began to play the trumpet moments after Schiavo's death was announced at 9:50 a.m., a gaggle of cameramen quickly surrounded him, two or three deep.

Has there ever been a set of protesters so small, so out of proportion, so outnumbered by the press, for a story that had supposedly set off a "furious debate" nationwide? That's how described the Schiavo story this week. Although it's not clear how a country can have a "furious debate" when two-thirds of its citizens agree on the issue or, in the case of some Schiavo poll questions (i.e., Were Congress and President Bush wrong to intervene?), four out of five Americans agree.

But the "furious debate" angle has been a crucial selling point in the Schiavo story in part because editors and producers could never justify the extraordinary amount of time and resources they set aside for the story if reporters made plain in covering it every day that the issue was being driven by a very small minority who were out of step with the mainstream.

that's just the lead... it's worth sitting through the salon ad to get a day pass for. (or if you adblock it just right, you might be able to get a day pass without actually seeing the ad itself.)

it even included this little tidbit that i hadn't heard before, but that makes the whole situation very clear:
The press also downplayed references to a 2000 trial at which Schiavo's extremely conservative Roman Catholic parents conceded that even if Terri had told them she would never want to be kept alive with a feeding tube, they would not have honored that request (an acknowledgment that goes a long way toward explaining their actions in the case). For the most part, the press portrayed Schiavo's parents, Terry and the hospice protesters as simply being overly concerned and vaguely conservative. And nothing more.

what a sad situation.