Friday, December 26, 2003

Sancte Stephane, Ora Pro Nobis!

I hope all of you had a joyful and blessed Christmas! Mine was busy, but wonderful: I love celebrating the Masses of Christmas. I enjoyed Christmas dinner with some parishioners, as there wasn't enough time for me to travel to be at home for Christmas this year.

Today is the feast of St. Stephen the Protomartyr:



I used to be puzzled at celebrating this feast on the day after Christmas. It seemed to me that, after the joy and exaltation of Christmas, to celebrate the feast of a martyr was sort of a comedown. I mean, it's not as though we know the actual date of Stephen's death, so the Church could have picked almost any day. But this date is not a coincidence. There is a fittingness to this date, as St. Fulgentius (465-533) tells us in a homily for this day:
Yesterday we celebrated the temporal birth of our eternal King: today we celebrate the triumphal passion of his soldier. Yesterday our King, having put on the garb of our flesh, came from the sanctuary of His Mother's virginal womb, and mercifully visited the earth: today his soldier, quitting his earthly tabernacle, entered triumphantly into heaven... Yesterday Jesus was wrapped, for our sakes, in swaddling clothes: today Stephen was clothed with the robe of immortal glory. Yesterday a narrow crib contained the infant Jesus: today the immensity of the heavenly court received the triumphant Stephen... The place of honor amidst all who stand round the crib of the new-born King belongs to Stephen, the proto-martyr, who, as the Church sings of him, was "the first to pay back to the Saviour the death suffered by the Saviour." It was just that this honor should be shown to Martyrdom; for Martyrdom is the creature's testimony and return to the Creator for all the favors bestowed on him: it is man testifying, even by shedding his blood, to the truths which God has revealed to the world... Now the glorious martyr-band of Christ is headed by St. Stephen. His name signifies the Crowned, and a conqueror such as he could not be better named. He marshals, in the name of Christ, the white-robed army; for he was the first, even before the apostles themselves, to receive the summons, and right nobly did he answer it.

Christ is Savior and Lord. He is King, and the Shepherds and Wise Men acknowledged his Kingship. But Christ did not rule from a throne, but from the Cross. He did not wear a crown of gold and gems, but a crown of thorns. He is Triumphator, but His triumph came through suffering and death. So Stephen points the way for us, to follow Christ to glory!

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Carmina Solemnitatis Nativitatis Domini

That's "Christmas Carols in Latin", for you Latin-challenged folks...


Aquafolia Ornatis

"Deck the Halls"

Aquafolia ornatis,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tempus hoc hilaritatis,
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Vestes claras induamus;
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Cantilenas nunc promamus,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.


O Parve Vice Bethlehem

"O Little Town of Bethlehem"

O parve vice Bethlehem,
Quam tacite dormis,
Et spectant alta sidera
De caeruleis caelis.
Sed in obscuris viis
Tu hodie tenes,
Aeterna luce fulgente,
Annorum omnes spes!

Nam Iesus Christus natus est;
Et laeti angeli
Infantem sanctum mirantur
Dum dormiunt pop'li.
O stellae, conclamate
Nostrum Redemptorem,
Atque laudes Deo Regi,
Mortalibus pacem!


And, of course:

Rudolphus, Reno Nasus Rubricatus

"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"

Reno erat Rudolphus
Nasum rubrum habebat;
Si quando hunc videbas,
Hunc candere tu dicas.

Omnes renores alii
Semper hunc deridebant;
Cum misero Rudolpho
In ludis non ludebant.

Santus Nicholas dixit
Nocte nebulae,
"Rudolphe, naso claro
Nonne carum tu duces?"

Tum renores clambant,
"Rudolphe, delectus es?
Cum naso rubro claro
Historia descendes!"

For all your Latin Carol needs, go here.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Re-Defining Sex

My friend Jenny Roback Morse is pretty cool: she's an economist, a good Catholic, a mom, a writer, and all-around smart lady.

She has a pair of articles at NRO, the first of which is "Love and...Marriage and the Meaning of Sex".

A revolution in the definition of sex has been going on for the last generation or so. Until recently, sex was understood, at least implicitly, as having a communal function, and society had an interest in defining the proper boundaries of sexual behavior. But, Morse argues, that has changed:
...For many people in modern America, sex has little or nothing to do with building community of any kind. Sex is a purely private matter, in the narrowest sense of private. Sex is a recreational activity, and a consumer good. My consumption of this good, my enjoyment of this activity, is a completely private matter that should be viewed analogously with other goods and activities.

This redifinition is having repercussions throughout society, and is at the heart of the debate over such issues as Gay "marriage". Jenny's article is right on mark, as far as I'm concerned. Read it and see why!

Having a Blog is Funny, Sometimes

You can encounter all sorts of different people.

Commenter Don is certainly that. And at first, his comments were kind of interesting and amusing. He reminds me of the "Jack" character from "Will & Grace": Someone who goes through life in a state of perpetual ferment and drama, utterly unaware of how insubstantial and ludicrous he is.

When Don started up with the all-but-inevitable name-calling (more on that in a moment), I was tempted to ban him. But I decided not to, for two reasons: (1) I didn't want to provide him with an excuse to pose as The Grievously Suffering Martyr, silenced for being a Prophet of the Gay cause. (2) Don is a lightweight. Banning him would be like using a shotgun to get rid of a pesky fly.

See, in Monday's post "Ideology as History", I quoted actual statements from important figures in Greek history which give the lie to the gay activists' contention that the ancient Greeks thought, like the fashionable parrots of the Zeitgeist, that homosexuality was the Most Wonderful Thing in The Universe. In fact, they didn't, as yet one more quote, from Plato's Laws, will illustrate:
[636c]...One certainly should not fail to observe that when male unites with female for procreation the pleasure experienced is held to be due to nature, but contrary to nature when male mates with male or female with female, and that those first guilty of such enormities were impelled by their slavery to pleasure.

Here, the gay activist's ideology, that is to say, his mythos, runs up against the brick wall of fact. And so he can either (a) refute the facts adduced, (b) ignore the facts and proceed as thought they didn't exist, or (c) attempt to shout down the person adducing the facts.

Don (nor the other gay advocate who commented), I will note, did not adduce a single actual argument challenging my demonstration that the ancient Greeks did not accept homosexual behavior as "normal". Instead, he chose options b and c.

Don illustrated the truth of Ann Coulter's dictum (from her book, Slander) that Leftists (and homosexual activists are simply a species of Leftist), when confronted with facts inconvenient to them, don't argue. They attempt to shout down the opposition and resort to name calling.

And in the 40 or so comments Don posted over a couple of threads, we certainly get a lot of name calling. Unfortunately, most of it is rather derivative, consisting of worn out and unimaginative calumnies such as:

I am a "hater". (Anyone who disagrees with a Leftist must be doing so out of hate.)

The Church, and people who advocate moral standards and accountability, want to "control" people.

The Church is engaging in "Nazism" against gays. (It is an established rule of Internet discourse that the person who introduces comparisons of "nazis" or "fascists" to his opponent at that moment has lost the argument).

The Church has abused women and continues to do so.

God "made" people gay.

The Church, which is powerful and evil and wicked enough to do all those bad things, is nonetheless about to crumble into oblivion.

And so on, ad nauseam. And of, course, those of us who embrace the traditional standards of Christian morality are "bigots", and "fools", and "brainwashed".

Of course, he is saying all these things, including telling one commenter to "burn in hell, dear", because he is filled with Jesus' LOVE: "L.O.V.E. YOU IDIOTS ! LOVE !"

Of course, the more shrill his screams are, the more absurd he becomes. That's why I don't ban him.

Don, in short, is a troll. It is always a capital mistake to engage a troll in rational argument, as you would a reasonable person. The troll is not interested in rational argument: he is usually a monomaniac intent only on shouting his mania to all around him. So I will ask my readers to please observe the common-sense rule applied to trolls: Don't feed him. I'm confident that sooner or later, he will say something so abusive or outrageous that I'll have to ban him. But let's not hand him the opportunity.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Hooray for Me!

Sometime last night or early this morning I turned over 100,000 hits on my blog counter!

Thank you for your support!

Blug

That's my neologism for plugging a blog. Blog + Plug = Blug.

Or perhaps, a better neologism might be Plog. Plug + Blog = Plog.

Although I seem to recall that Victor Lams already used Plog for something else. If you read this, Victor, or if anyone else remembers, let me know.

At any rate, the Blog I wish to Blug is that of my good friend and classmate, Fr. Dave Hudgins.

Dave's a good guy and great priest, and you can read his thoughts over at The Great Commandment. Go pay him a visit!

Monday, December 15, 2003

Ideology as History

I wasn't going to post anything today. Monday is my day off, and I had planned on indulging myself in relative idleness in view of the fact that last week was very busy and that I will get even busier as we near Christmas.

But sometimes a piece of nonsense comes along so egregious that comment, correction, and debunking is necessary.

I am speaking of some of the assertions made in a recent New York Times book review, linked yesterday by Mark Shea.

Edward Rothstein, in his efforts to offer unconfined adulation to Louis Crompton's Homosexuality and Civilization, repeats uncritically Crompton's assertions regarding homosexuality in ancient Greece, and illustrates that the Manhattanite chattering classes owe their conception of history more to trends of pseudo-intellectual fashion than to actual reading.

Crompton, in his book, wants to posit that "homosexuality is associated with the inner workings of civilization itself". Since homosexuality is at the very core of what it means to be civlilized, it shouldn't surprise us to learn that homosexuals had things just peachy before that horrible old Christianity came on the scene; until just a few decades or so ago, when we finally began shaking those Christian bugaboos off our enlightened intellects.

And so, he trots out the now all-but-unquestioned canard that in ancient Greece "homosexuality had an 'honored place' for more than a millennium".

This. is. utter. nonsense.

I know you've heard from shows on the Discovery Channel and read in Cosmo that homosexuality was an accepted, "normal" part of Greek society, but that assertion is complete poppycock.

Anyone who asserts that the ancient Greeks looked at homosexuality as "normal" is either ignorant or is blinded by ideology. And any honest classical scholar will admit it.

I studied Classics and Patristics in graduate school at the Catholic University of America in Washinton, DC, whence I have an M.A. in Classics. I also studied the Classics in college at the University of Illinois. I labored for years reading Plato, Xenophon, Euripides, Plutarch, Homer, etc. in the original Greek. And I can tell you without equivocation that the ancient Greeks did not view homosexuality as "ok".

Now, it is true that they didn't look at homsexual behavior with the same degree of abomination as say, did ancient Israel. And they wouldn't have labelled it a "sin against nature", as would Thomas and the scholastics. At best, it was something they made jokes about. And the failure to abominate hardly constitutes approval. There's a wide ground between calling homosexuality an "objective disorder" and granting it an "honored place" in society.

But don't just take my word for it. Let's look at what some notable Greeks themselves said. This is how Xenophon, in his Memorobilia, describes Socrates' reaction to Critias' homosexual desire for Euthydemus:
Nevertheless, although he [Socrates] was himself free from vice, if he saw and approved of base conduct in them, he would be open to censure. Well, when he found that Critias loved Euthydemus and wanted to lead him astray, he tried to restrain him by saying that it was mean and unbecoming in a gentleman to sue like a beggar to the object of his affection, whose good opinion he coveted, stooping to ask a favour that it was wrong to grant. [30] As Critias paid no heed whatever to this protest, Socrates, it is said, exclaimed in the presence of Euthydemus and many others, “Critias seems to have the feelings of a pig: he can no more keep away from Euthydemus than pigs can help rubbing themselves against stones.”

It is important to note that Xenophon places this account in relation to describing Socrates moral rectitude and virtue, and in his reactions to "base" conduct. Secondly, Socrates points out that it would be "wrong" for Euthydemus to grant the favor Critias sought, and that it is "mean" for Critias to go mooning after him. Finally, even in ancient Greece one did not compare sentiments which have an "honored place" in society to the "feelings of a pig."

Xenophon also describes how the legendary Lawgiver of the Spartans, Lycurgus, dealt with the prospect of homosexual "recruitment" of boys in the ephebate [the training program for boys of about 15-19]:
If someone, being himself an honest man, admired a boy's soul and tried to make of him an ideal friend without reproach and to associate with him, he approved, and believed in the excellence of this kind of training. But if it was clear that the attraction lay in the boy's outward beauty, he banned the connexion as an abomination; and thus he caused lovers to abstain from boys no less than parents abstain from sexual intercourse with their children and brothers and sisters with each other.

Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaimonians

Again, it is hard to reconcile the supposed "honored" place of homosexuality with its description as an "abomination" on par with incest.

Plutarch, in his Alexandros, relates that when Alexander was asked by the governor of one of his provinces in Asia Minor, in an attempt to curry favor, if he would like him to send "...a young man, the likes of whom for bloom and beauty did not exist." Alexander replied, "Why you vile man, what past deeds of mine have you witnessed that would make you think I would be interested in such pleasures?" Note that Alexander did not reply with a modern, "tolerant" response, like, "Well, "I'm not interested in that sort of thing, not that there's anything wrong with that."

Finally, Nikos Vrissimtzis, the author of a recent best-seller in Greece, Love, Sex and Marriage - a Guide to the Private Life of the Ancient Greeks, said in a BBC report:
"Contrary to popular opinion, that world was not a paradise for homosexuals, and paedaracy was held in such contempt that it was very heavily punished... Homosexuals were not, as many believed, openly accepted by society. They were marginalised and punished by law," Vrissimtzis says. "For example, they could not enter the ancient Agora [the business and government center of a Greek city] or participate in ranks and rituals involving the state.

He also said, "Ancient Greece was not a liberal society."

And in that last remark lies the crux of the issue. It is the typical tactic of sexual libertines, including homosexuals, to try to create a mythos of some ideal society which embraces the degeneracy that they want to establish here and now. Liberals want to be able to point to some utopia, and will make one up if necessary. Margaret Mead tried to do it with the Samoans and was eventually proven a fraud. The gay activists have been trying to do it with ancient Greece, and are also perpetrating a fraud.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Something Really Does Stink In Pinellas County, Florida

Sorry, but everything I see coming from Florida: the egregious rulings of Judge Greer, the topsy-turvy rulings of the Appellate courts, the lamentable lack of investigation into the circumstances of Terri's injuries, leads me to believe that it is a cesspool of corruption.

And now, outrageously, a disabled teacher has been fired in Pinellas County, Florida, almost certainly because of her outspoken support for Terri's right to live. Pinellas County is the same county in which Terri resides in her hospice. It's the same county which has on it's circuit bench Judges Greer and Baird. It's the same place in which death-dealing attorney George Felos has his practice.

CNS News reports:
Rus Cooper-Dowda told CNSNews.com Wednesday morning that the Pinellas County School Board voted six-to-one to fire her Tuesday night, citing "job perforrmance" as the reason. The veteran teacher claims she was terminated in retaliation for sharing her opinion about the Schiavo case in response to a reporter's question.

Rus Cooper-Dowda is disabled herself, and has written eloquently about Terri's case. At one time she was in a similar situation to Terri's:
At age 30, the teacher contracted a severe case of lupus that left her unable to speak and with very little control over her motor functions. She listened helplessly as doctors incorrectly diagnosed her as being in a Persistent Vegetative State, the same condition some physicians believe afflicts Terri, and described her chances for recovery as "hopeless."

"I could hear all that," Cooper-Dowda recalled. "It took a huge effort to finally communicate, 'I'm in here!' And I barely survived."

Though she could not speak, Cooper-Dowda would use her finger to write the word "no" in the air when doctors discussed removing her life support. Those same doctors diagnosed her attempts to communicate as "seizure activity" and sedated her. According to Cooper-Dowda, the harder she tried to communicate with her caretakers, the more heavily she was sedated.

The curiosity of one nurse saved Cooper-Dowda's life, she said.

"She refused to believe that the systematic pattern of tapping and blinking and moving and moaning was not communication," Cooper-Dowda recalled. "So, when I went to Terri Schiavo's October 2002 hearing ... I saw the videos for the first time and I was writing about it and I thought, 'That could have been me,' and then I thought, 'Oh, it was me!'"

Cooper-Dowda's firing seems to follow a little too closely her remarks made to a reporter about the Terri Schiavo case:
I did a very brief interview, offsite, on my own time, not identifying as a teacher, where I said, 'As a disabled Floridian of faith, female, with disabilities, this is scary,'" Cooper-Dowda explained. "And I was really clear that 'you cannot say I am a teacher' and the reporter was disappointed because I teach special ed[ucation], but agreed."

But, unknown to her, many of her students were watching the news that evening, and the word of her appearance spread quickly. At a faculty meeting the next day she heard, among other things, that she didn't "fit in", that teachers "with public opinions like that don't fit in." She was also labelled a "religious wacko" by some of her colleagues and superiors. She was told by her principal, various teachers, etc. that "Teachers aren't allowed to have opinions, especially about Terri Schiavo, and especially if you're already a seminary grad[uate]".

Things really got bad, she said, when some copies of a booklet she had written about Terri Schiavo appeared on campus.
After that I couldn't get the most accepted basic support like needed room supplies, memos about meetings, campus police help when any of my kids needed to be removed for violence or assistance for students hurting themselves regularly," Cooper-Dowda alleged. "Finally, I was given less than a day to hand deliver a resignation for 'personal reasons' or be fired for 'not fitting in.'"

She is contemplating legal action against the school board, but, unless she can mount a federal case, she'll have to bring it before the judges of Pinellas County. Any guesses as to the likelihood of her getting justice there?

A More High-falutin' Kind of E-mail Scam

Here's an excerpt...


Mlle Rama Kinta

J’ai l’honneur de venir par le biais de ma lettre vous
informer mon désir ardent d'entamer une relation
d’affaire avec vous.

Je m'appelle Rama Kinta je suis la fille unique de feu
monsieur Kinta Alfred avant qu’il ne soit empoisonner
par son associer au cour d’un dîner d’affaire était un
grand exportateur de café et de cacao baser au Ghana
avant le décès de papa a la clinique Gospel il m’a
appeler a son chevet pour me faire part d’un grand
secret.

Il m’a fait savoir qu’il avait fait un dépôt d'une
importante somme d'argent de 10 000 000$ de dollars
(DIX MILLIONS DE DOLLARS ) dans la garderie d'une
compagnie de sécurité en cote d’ivoire Mais la
compagnie de sécurité ne connaît pas le contenu de la
caisse par ce qu'il avait déclaré le contenue du
coffre comme étant des objets de valeur familiaux et
non de l'argent pour des raisons de sécurités j’ai en
ma possession les clefs du coffre et tous les
documents officiels du dépôt.


Sure, they've got $10,000,000 deposited somewhere on the Ivory Coast.

I guess they figured if their pitch was en francais, I'd somehow fail to notice that it's a scam.


Thursday, December 11, 2003

The March of The Gay Agenda Into Public Schools

Recently, a posting on "Embracing Diversity" on Amy Welborn's blog was hijacked by a commenter pushing the gay rights agenda. He turned the topic into a debate of the case of a boy in Lafayette, Louisiana, and condemned us "social conservatives" for giving tacit consent to the "terrorizing" of the little boy, who, reportedly, merely told his classmates that he had two mommies, because his mommy is gay.

He then trotted out reports concerning the Louisiana incident, similar to this from CNN.com:
She was astonished at what second-grade teacher Terry L. Bethea had written: "Marcus decided to explain to another child in his group that his mom is gay. He told the other child that gay is when a girl likes a girl. This kind of discussion is not acceptable in my room. I feel that parents should explain things of this nature to their own children in their own way."

Marcus was scolded in front of his classmates, sent to the principal's office and barred from recess, the ACLU said. And he was ordered to attend "behavior clinic."

Huff didn't understand. She asked Marcus what "bad word" he had used. The child answered, "gay."

"I just couldn't figure out what was so horrible about that word," Huff recalled Wednesday.

When I first read the reports, it struck me that they sounded like an ACLU press release. It shouldn't have surprised me, since further examination revealed that the press accounts were, in fact, almost entirely cribbed from an ACLU press release. That's balanced and objective reporting for you!

But, as it turns out, the truth isn't as dire as gay-rights activists, trying to gin up sympathy, would purport. On a Chicago radio talk-show yesterday morning, both the superintendent of the school system and the chairman of the school board explained that what in fact happened was a fairly ordinary disciplinary incident: The teacher had given her class an assignment to work on in-class. The boy involved in the dispute was not working on the assignment, but was engaged in chatter with other students, creating a distraction in class. The teacher corrected him several times and tried to get him back on task. Only when that failed did she send him to the principal's office, and only then did the content of the boy's remarks come out.

The incident had nothing, in it's origin, to do with the boy's mother being "gay". It was about his misbehavior in class.

Now, it is true that the teacher did write, in a note sent home with the student:
Marcus decided to explain to another child in his group that his mom is gay. He told the other child that gay is when a girl likes a girl. This kind of discussion is not acceptable in my room. I feel that parents should explain things of this nature to their own children in their own way.

I say "Bravo!" for that teacher! There is absolutely nothing wrong with her statement. She obviously has not had her common-sense beaten out of her by the elements of our society which are trying to prematurely sexualize our children.

I think most parents would most definitely not want their 7 year old children to be subjected in school to discussions about "gay" parents and about things like "gay is when a girl likes a girl."

It is, at best, disingenuous for pro-gay activists to say things like this [Caution: this site, Gay.com, has ads for things like "the world's finest male erotica"]:
"Of course we believe that parents should be the ones who talk with small children about things like sex, but Marcus McLaurin's school seems to think that he was talking about sex when all he was talking about was his two mothers," said Joe Cook, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana.

To start talking about "gay is when a girl likes a girl", can be little else than an opening to talk about what "gay" love might mean. A child, naturally curious, will wonder just what the difference is between his mommy and daddy, who "love" each other, and Tommy's two daddies, who also "love" each other. And the opening to talk about what gay "love" means can only be seen as an effort to condition children to think of gay as being "normal", when in fact it is not.

I predict that the school district here will cave in the end. The teacher will probably be reprimanded, and possibly fired or have her contract not renewed. And her teacher's union will probably not lift a finger to help her. Such sacrifices are demanded on the altar of homosexuals' unfettered right to have no one whatsoever object to their behavior.

Parents are going to see more and more of this sort of thing. Their efforts to raise children whose innocence is intact are being increasingly undermined by the public school establishment, captive, as it is becoming, to the gay activist agenda.

What's the solution? Keep watch, be on guard. And be ready to find an alternative to the public schools, because I think the corruption has already set in too deep to stop it now.

The Topsy-Turvy Land of Florida Courts

Apparently, in the Florida judicial system, the hieratic powers of its black-robed masters have reached so far as to be able to make darkness light, day into night, and suspend the laws of logic which bind us mere ordinary mortals.

Consider the following:

The trial judge in the Terri Schiavo case, George Greer, ruled that Michael Schiavo's testimony that Terri "wouldn't want to go on living" is "clear and convincing", in spite of it being corroborated only by Michael's brother and sister-in-law, whose corroboration was only gotten into court by a last-minute dodge by attorney George Felos, which violated the rules of civil trial procedure. Greer also ignored substantial contravening testimony against Michael's contention.

The appeals court in Florida keeps Felos on the case, in spite of the above violation, as well as Greer's violation of the rule against ex parte communications, by having impromptu news conferences in his chambers when counsel for both sides are not present.

Now, the Florida Appeals court has ruled that Circuit Judge W. Douglas Baird is to remain on the Terri Schiavo case, in spite of evidence that he is biased.

Judge Baird, before any hearings have been held in the matter of "Terri's Law", the legislation which allowed Gov. Jeb Bush to intervene and order Terri's feeding tube restored, has made statements that he believes the law is "presumptively unconstitutional."

To the ordinary person, that sounds like the judge has pre-judged the case. But to Florida Appeals judges, who apparently use a secret code which sounds like the English language, but conveys different meanings, such utterances from Baird are "not improper".
Bush criticized the decision, saying in a statement that "it appears the court has determined that prejudging a case before evidence is presented is acceptable in Florida."

What's really going on is this: the black-robed masters of the Florida judiciary, being accustomed to the unfettered power to call black white by their fiat, are mad as hell that the Florida legislature and Gov. Bush have challenged their ability to exercise raw power, and order an innocent woman's death by judicial ukase.

So now they are going to try to punish Bush, and they will not rest until Terri is dead, if for no other reason than to demonstrate who our masters really are. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And there is no one in this country who exercises power more absolute than a judge, particularly at the appellate level. And once they have tasted the heady brew that is the power over life and death, most will do almost anything to keep it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Polls vs. Truth

Yesterday, Patricia Anderson, attorney for Bob & Mary Schindler, issued the following statement in response to the St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald poll which reported that sixty-five percent of the poll's 800 respondents disagreed with Governor Jeb Bush's order to reinstate Terri Schiavo's feeding tube.


PATRICIA FIELDS ANDERSON, P.A.
Attorney at Law

 
Any first-year political science student knows that poll results are only as good as the bias of the questioner. 
 
The fact is that unless Florida law is changed to honor only written advance directives, we will all see other cases like Terri Schiavo, in which a spouse, now living with another woman with whom he has had two children, suddenly and  conveniently remembers years after the fact the disabled spouse's wishes in the matter.  If we, as a society, are prepared to accept these remembered wishes as a cover for getting rid of seriously disabled persons, where is that line going to be drawn?  Who's next?  Children with cerebral palsy?  Alzheimer's patients? People who wear contact lenses?  Are the lives of the disabled less valuable?

Pat Anderson is on to a very important point: if we are going to allow half-remembered, uncorroborated (I will not dignify Michael Schiavo's last-minute production of his brother and sister-in-law with the term "corroboration") casual statements to dictate life and death decisions, many of those people writing opinion pieces and answering pollsters that they think it's OK to starve Terri may come to rue their offhanded comments. Some one of their relatives or children, in a few years, may be able to say, "Well, I remember Mom telling that pollster she thought it was OK to pull the plug on Terri Schiavo, so I guess we can just let that pneumonia run its course and finish her off."


Monday, December 08, 2003

The Duty to Die

Nat Hentoff wrote another great column last week exploring the implications of the Terri Schiavo case. He has noted that when they first began their efforts, so-called "death with dignity" advocates championed the rights of patients and families to make decisions about providing or withholding treatment.

But now, what was once dubiously called the "right to die" has been transformed by some clinicians and bio-ethicists into what amounts to a "duty to die". He quotes Nancy Valko, a nurse and expert on medical ethics:
This theory [that some lives are no longer worth living] has now evolved into 'futile care' policies at hospitals in Houston, Des Moines, California and many other areas. Even Catholic hospitals are now becoming involved. . . . Thus, the 'right to die' becomes the 'duty to die,' with futile care policies offering death as the only 'choice.' . . . A poor prognosis, which can be erroneous and is seldom precise, will become a death sentence.

Not too long ago, standard medical ethics coincided with Catholic teaching in granting a "presumption in favor" of medically assisted nutrition and hydration. But, as I have researched the Terri Schiavo case, I have discovered that a revolution has been going on for the last 10-15 years. The "presumption in favor of medically assisted nutrition and hydration" found in Catholic teaching is being undermined by an alternative presumption, which is based on redefining the boundaries of what constitutes medical "treatment". Dr. Ronald Cranford was the principal medical witness for Michael Schiavo. He testified that Terri is in a PVS and will never recover. He also tesitified to that effect in the Nancy Cruzan case. But in the Cruzan case, the patient did not require a feeding tube. She could be fed by mouth. Nevertheless, he was willing to redefine even spoon-feeding a patient as "treatment". By this principle, practically anything a health-care provider does for a patient becomes "treatment".

Another attempted redefinition lies in the meaning of the term "futile". It is a commonplace of medical ethics, as well as Catholic teaching, that one is under no obligation to continue, and may indeed be obliged to withdraw, treatment that is "futile." Cindy Province, RN, MSN, Associate Director of the Bioethics Center of St. Louis, has written that a treatment has typically been considered "futile" if it has no benefit or desired effect whatsoever. Food has not been considered treatment because no one expects food to have any "direct curative effect". Furthermore, Province explains, in a patient like Terri tube feeding can be considered effective because it "clearly achieves the objective of maintaining a good nutritional state." But this kind of common-sense thinking has been rejected by much of the medical community:
...This view has been largely replaced by a more general view of the nature of nutrition as treatment... in that it has not enabled the patient to recover from his underlying condition.

Now, since food and water, redefined as treatment, do not help the patient to recover from his underlying condition, it can be labeled as "futile." Having deemed feeding the patient, by this sleight-of-hand, as "futile", it is a short step to justifying its withdrawal. By means of these redefinitions, those who want to help the sub-functional to depart this life a little more quickly have obtained an infinitely fungible, increasingly meaningless and arbitrary set of boundaries within which to do so.

Sorry For Being Scarce Lately...

But I've been busy. In addition to travelling a great deal over the past few weeks, I've had a couple of big writing projects which took up most of my time.

Things have let up somewhat: at least I won't have to go anywhere for a while. So I can blog a little again. But I'm still pretty busy, with Advent and parish responsibilities, and I have a couple of other big projects bearing down on me, so if I disappear again, you'll know why.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Giving Thanks

Gratitude is an indicator of holiness. If you read the writings of, or the Lives of, the great Saints, you'll see that they were suffused with a spirit of Gratitude. They were always thanking God for all they had, and taking notice of the smallest blessings.

Gratitude is also a remedy against Sin. It's the times when I'm most self-satisfied and taking things for granted that I end up being the most susceptible to temptation, and prone to become self-absorbed. Gratitude takes the attention away from yourself and puts it on the Giver. If you make the effort to practice gratitude, you will be come Holy. It's that simple.

I am grateful for many things today. Here are a few:

I'm grateful for my priesthood.

I'm grateful for the Grace by which Our Lord saved me.

I'm grateful for Our Lord's most holy gift of the Eucharist, and the unimaginable privilege he has given me as His priest, to make Him present on the Altar.

I'm grateful for my family: my mother, father, aunts, cousins, who have shown me so much love and support over the years.

I'm grateful for my friends: they have taught me so much, given me so much, shared with me so much, and mean so much to me.

I'm grateful for all the good things of this world: The beauty of Nature, the wonders of creation, red wine, champagne, Prime Angus steaks, Vienna Beef Chicago-style hot dogs, lobster, asparagus, good Scotch whisky, good Bourbon, cigars, and micro-brewed beers.


Great are the works of the Lord, to be treasured for all their delights!

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

What Thanksgiving is Really All About

According to Gary Hull, in Capitalism Magazine, "Thanksgiving celebrates man's ability to produce."

That's right, Thanksgiving isn't about gratitude, or thanking God for His blessings upon us. No, Hull says:
That view is a slap in the face of any person who has worked an honest day in his life. The appropriate values for this holiday are not faith and charity, but thought and production.

There's nothing spiritual about it; it's all about producing and consuming, all about the "creation of wealth". That's your purpose in life.

At first, upon reading it, I thought the writer was merely some unimaginitive and culturally tone-deaf ass. But on a second examination, I realize there's something more sinister here. See, Capitalism Magazine is the work of modern-day acolytes of Ayn Rand, the apostle of selfishness and the Nietszchean Will to Power.

How, then, should we celebrate Thanksgiving? "By raising a toast to the virtue of your own productive ability...", we are told.

Produce for yourself! Thank yourself! Toast yourself!

Sounds to me like variations on the old theme:
Worship Yourself!

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Well, At Least It's Almost Over

I heard a commercial this morning, urging us to watch the spellbinding, exciting, two-hour finale to "The Bachelor".

After my first reaction, "Two hours??!!??", two more thoughts came to mind:

(1) Well, at least it's going to be over.

(2) Doing practically anything else that wasn't actually sinful would be a better use of time than wasting two hours watching that dreck.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Throwing a Monkeywrench Into The Media Machine

That's what Nat Hentoff continues to do by telling the truth about Terri Schiavo. And he's telling it to truth-starved Manhattanites who might otherwise only receive the East-ablishment Party Line from the New York Times.

Yesterday, in his Village Voice column, Hentoff asked the question "Was Terri Schiavo Beaten in 1990?"

As he described Tuesday in the Jewish World Review, and as I explained here almost two weeks ago, the mounting evidence seems more and more clearly to answer his question "Yes".

Hentoff reports on evidence from a brain scan and x-rays that were done on Terri in 1991. Nat writes concerning Dr. Campbell Walker's report:
"This patient has a history of trauma. The presumption is that the other multiple areas of trauma also relate to previous trauma."[Emphasis added].

Here we get to what focused Dr. Baden's attention. On cnsnews.com, Jeff Johnson reported, "Walker listed apparent injuries to the ribs, thoracic vertebrae, both sacroiliac joints, both ankles and both knees."

The most promising news is that a Federal agency, the Advocacy Center for Persons With Disabilities (ACPD) is now investigating Terri's case. Let's hope they will be able to uncover the truth about the Michael's mis-guardianship of Terri, and about how she got into her present state in the first place.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Schindlers to Appear on Oprah Today!

I got behind the 8-ball on this one... but Mary Schindler, and Terri's brother and sister, Bobby and Suzanne, will be appearing today on Oprah.

The show is scheduled for broadcast today, but your local station may follow a different broadcast schedule.

The comments on Oprah's Message Board seem to be running generally towards the Schindlers and the pro-life position.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Bleg! Help Needed!

I need some help and information. I need to talk to someone who is very knowledgeable about Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I'd prefer an attorney who specializes in such things, but if another professional (e.g., CPA, Financial Planner) has expertise in such matters I'll certainly listen to him/her as well.

The issues concern my mother. She has several questions/problems which she doesn't have answers for. She's talked to people at Social Security, but (Surprise! Surprise!) gets "I'll have to get back to about that", or gets different answers from different people.

If you are such a person or know someone who could be of help, please e-mail me at frrob@earthlink.net.


Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The Generosity of St. Blog's

I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of so many of you, the virtual "parishioners" of St. Blog's. When the suggestion was first made, here and on other blogs, that I should go to Florida to offer support to Bob & Mary Schindler, and assistance to Msgr. Ted Malanowski, a large number of you stepped forward to offer to help with the expenses for my trip.

When the trip actually became a reality, you followed through and sent donations: by PayPal, by mail, and "in kind". And I received many e-mails from others who told me that they were unable to assist financially, but were praying for Terri and for me. The whole experience was an illustration of Faith in Action. I was and am humbled by your compassion and generosity.

While there are too many of you to thank here by name, there are a a few people who I feel deserve special mention: Firstly, Pete Vere of Catholic Light and Envoy Encore was of great help to me in the logistical arrangements for my trip. He also did very important work himself in reporting from the scene. The distinction of the donation sent from farthest away goes to "Chris" from New Zealand. A special thank you also goes to the man my readers will know as "Zippy" from his comments-box nom de plume. He made my flight arrangements for me, as well as offering a substantial contribution. I was particularly touched by his support because he and I have crossed verbal swords more than once over various issues. I think it was evidence of his excellent character that he was able to put aside the differences of opinion we had had and be so helpful to me.

A few donations were trickling in by mail as late as last Friday. Now that they're all in, and I have looked over the receipts and bills, I am happy to be able to fulfill the promise I made when I first undertook to go, that any donations I received over and above my expenses would go to the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation. Firstly, though, a word of explanation is in order: When I brought up with Bob Schindler the subject of a donation to the foundation, he was very appreciative, but said that if I knew of any other deserving persons or families that I should help them out as well. So, after discussion with him, I have given assistance to some of Terri's supporters who were in need, who had made substantial sacrifices and gone to some expense to help the Schindlers.

That being said, the amount that will be contributed to the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, representing the cash donations remaining after expenses and the other assistance I mentioned above, is $2,275.00.

Thanks to all of you who made this possible. You have truly done God's work!

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Nat Hentoff Once Again Proves: Great Minds Think Alike

Nat Hentoff is writing a series of columns about Terri Schiavo. His column yesterday on the media's Lies About Terri was reminiscent of something I had blogged about a week earlier.

Well, today, Nat focuses on the troubling evidence that Terri may have been put in her condition by her husband, Michael. He recalls last week's appearance on Greta van Susteren's show by Dr. Michael Baden. Among other things, Dr. Baden said:
"The trauma could be from an auto accident ... a fall ... or from some kind of beating that she obtained from somebody somewhere. It's something that should have been investigated in 1991 when these findings were found. ...

I'm glad that Hentoff is following up these issues. Writing, as he does, primarily for publications on the Left, he is getting the truth out to people who might otherwise read or hear only the half-truths propagated by the Media Machine.

But you, my loyal readers, knew about all this from my blog over a week ago...

I'm Excited About This!

The rest of you can have your Matrix: Revolutions or whatever. I'm psyched about the opening of Master And Commander: The Far Side of the World this weekend!

"Master and Commander" shows every sign of being a real swashbuckling epic. Your best bet for viewing the trailer is here at the Apple trailer page for Master and Commander.

The movie is based on the famous series of Aubrey/Maturin novels by Patrick O'Brian. I've read the whole 20-novel series, and these books have made some of the best reading I have ever enjoyed in my life. O'Brian's characters, Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin, are two of most well-drawn characters I have ever encountered in fiction. Set during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, the whole series rings with believability.

The movie's title comes from the first book of the series:



Master and Commander


The movie is based on the 11th novel in the series,



The Far Side of the World


It appears from the trailer that they take a few liberties with the plot of the novel. (You can read a synopsis of the movie here.) But that's not the sort of thing that bothers me a lot. I'm not one of those people who require slavish duplication of a book by a movie. Indeed, it seems to me that attempts to do so usually fall flat.

What I will be looking for is whether the actors can capture the essence of the wonderful characters that inhabit O'Brian's novels. Even the minor characters are filled out and memorable. That, and whether the film can convey the atmosphere of the stories, and the feel of the time. If the movie can do that, it will be a hit in my book.

And if you're looking for a good read, I can't recommend the Aubrey/Maturin series highly enough!

Monday, November 10, 2003

Lying About Terri Schiavo

Nat Hentoff also notices that the major media frequently do little more than parrot the George Feloses of the world.

He observes that in this, as in so many other matters, organs of "enlightened" opinion "are not as indicative of conscious liberal 'bias' as they are of ignorance or denial of the facts."

I wonder if Nat read my blog on The Persistently Vegetative Press?

Thanks to Amy for the link.


NARAL Pro-Choice America

laments that the Partial Birth Abortion ban is the "first federal ban on safe abortion procedures."

Firstly, just a reminder: NARAL changed its name to "Pro-Choice America" a while back. NARAL stands for National Abortion Rights Action League. They're not in the business of "choice". They're in the business of killing unborn children.

Secondly, the law was rendered moot by black-robed acolytes of NARAL within an hour of it's going into effect, so the grisly procedure is, in fact, going on apace. Moloch must be fed!

Finally, "safe" for whom? It certainly isn't "safe" for the baby whose head is pierced by a scissors and has its brains sucked out, moments before it would have otherwise been delivered alive and viable.

I check out the NARAL site every once in a while just to see what they're up to. You should, too. Although I warn you, afterwards you'll feel like you need a shower in Holy Water.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Rumor Correction Alert!

It has been reported that Bob & Mary Schindler were "axed" from the "Larry King Live" program. They were scheduled to appear tonight.

While it is true that they will not be appearing tonight, it has nothing to do with Larry King. Nothing nefarious going on here.

Bob Schindler has been having some heart and blood pressure problems in the last couple of weeks (one might guess as to the cause...).

So his doctors have ordered him to do nothing for a week. The Schindlers have tentatively rescheduled their Larry King appearance for next Friday, November 14.

Say a prayer for the Schindlers.

Why Doesn't Michael Divorce Terri?

A frequent question brought up regarding Michael Schiavo's relentless pursuit of Terri's death is, "Why doesn't he just divorce her and walk away?" Bob & Mary Schindler have begged Michael to do just that, saying that they will be happy to care for her. He would then be free to "move on" with his own life; marry his live-in girlfriend, etc.

Michael's response to that question, put to him last week by Larry King, was just as unconvincing as his confabulated tale of Terri's supposed wish not to be kept alive. All he can say are things like: "This is between Terri and myself. I'm not asking anybody to be mad at me. I'm not asking anybody to agree with me."

I have been thinking a lot about that question for the last few days, and I think I have some possible answers to it. Obviously, what I offer here are speculations, but they're speculations that I think fit what we know of the case.

Firstly, Michael might have some difficulty obtaining a divorce from Terri in Florida. From what Terri's parents told me and what I have learned about Florida law, Michael might find it difficult or even impossible to divorce Terri because she is disabled and unable to respond to a petition for divorce. The laws in Florida, in all likelihood, are written as they are to prevent people from divorcing their disabled spouses and dumping their care on the state. Of course, that well-intended law now works to Terri's detriment.

So then what about the possibility of moving Terri to another state, which would permit the divorce more readily? At first I thought the Schindlers might have objected to having Terri moved, but when I brought up the idea with Bob, he said, "if Michael wanted to move Terri to another state to divorce her, I'd say, 'let's do it tonight.'"

But, even then, there are other reasons why moving Terri and divorcing her wouldn't be acceptable to Michael. If Michael had divorced Terri say, five years ago, there would have still been around $700,000 in Terri's settlement fund. But in a divorce, Michael would be lucky to get even a third of it. Any competent lawyer representing Terri would realize that much of that money would be needed for Terri's care, and wouldn't have allowed Michael to get much of it at all.

No, a divorce wouldn't have given Michael what he wanted, if it was money he was after. In a divorce, Michael walks away with maybe $250,000. If Terri died, he would have gotten it all.

Now, of course, there isn't much money to be had. By all accounts, much of the money has gone to pay for Michael's lawyers. Michael says there's only about $50,000 left in the fund, and lawyer George Felos laments that he hasn't been paid since July (poor guy). Even allowing for Michael low-balling the amount left in the fund, there wouldn't be enough in there to care for Terri for more than a few years.

So now, for Michael, divorce is the last thing he wants. Not only in a divorce would he get nothing, he might even be required by the court to contribute to Terri's care, possibly for the rest of her life. He'd come out of the bargain worse off than when he entered it.

Then we come to what might be the more "intangible" considerations: Whatever motivations Michael may have had in seeking Terri's death, for George Felos, this is part of his Crusade of Death. Mr. Felos has built his legal practice around seeking the death of the diseased, elderly, and disabled. He has been a member of the Hemlock Society and is an advocate of euthanasia. Felos wants to expand the parameters within which we will find death not only acceptable, but desirable. And I think it was clear from the Larry King appearance that Felos is now the engineer of the train. Michael, it seems to me, may be a brute, but he is fundamentally a small, banal man. Michael is neither smart enough, nor evil enough, to have followed through for this long. And now Michael's only hope of seeing his wish for Terri's death come to fruition is to stay hitched to that train.

It would not suit Felos' purposes at all for Michael to divorce Terri. If that happened, Felos wouldn't have his test case. And Felos is not alone in wanting this test case. I do not think it is an accident that George Felos had Dr. Ronald Cranford appear as the chief medical witness for Michael. Dr. Cranford testified that Terri is in a persistent vegetative state, and will never recover. Although I hold, as I have written before, that Terri's "recoverability" is not the real issue, nonetheless Cranford's testimony on that score is hardly disinterested. He jokingly refers to himself as "Dr. Death," and for a fee he will come to your trial and testify that the person whose life you want ended is in a PVS. He was the leading medical voice calling for the deaths of Paul Brophy, Nancy Jobes, Nancy Cruzan, and Christine Busalucci. And what manner of death was prepared for all those about whom he testified? Removal of food and water, leading to death by dehydration/starvation.

Nancy Cruzan required no skilled nursing, no care but food and fluids, hygiene and turning to prevent bedsores. Indeed, she didn't require tube feeding. But Cranford testified that he would even consider spoon-feeding for Nancy Cruzan to be "medical treatment". Dr. Cranford has written that he foresees "that there may be extreme situations, and in the future increasingly common situations, where physician-assisted suicide may not only be permissible, but encouraged." In an op-ed piece for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune, Dr. Cranford advocated the starvation of Alzheimer's patients. Granny better hope and pray she remembers her grandkids' birthdays if Dr. Cranford gets his way.

Dr. Cranford is one of the leaders of the Death Crusade. He sees death as a solution to the problems posed by the elderly and disabled, and so wants more of it. George Felos demonstrates where he is coming from and what he is after by employing him. There are hundreds of thousands of elderly people in Florida, posing what Cranford called "challenges and costs" to society. A win in Terri's case would set a legal precedent, allowing Felos and the other acolytes of the euthanasia movement to help all those people to shuffle off this mortal coil a little more quickly than otherwise.

Mr. Felos has his own reasons for assisting Michael in his pursuit of Terri's death. Michael's reasons are, perhaps, more humble, but now they're attached to Felos.

Michael may have another reason for seeking Terri's death, though. It might be the same reason he has ordered that Terri is not to have an autopsy when she dies, and that her body is to be cremated...

Eve Has Been Very Good to Me

Eve Tushnet has been very good to me over the past few months, saying nice things about me and plugging my blog on several occasions. And, schmuck that I am, I've failed to acknowledge it until now.

So, Thanks, Eve!

By the way, she has a pretty cool blog. You should read it. Lots of stuff lately about movies and culture. Though, I must confess, I don't get the whole comic book thing.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Small Victory For the Schindlers

At a hearing yesterday, Judge Greer ruled against Michael Schiavo's motion to dismiss the Schindler's petition to have Schiavo removed as guardian.

Some time ago (before the constitutional challenge to Terri's Law), Pat Anderson, attorney for the Schindlers', filed a petition in Judge Greer's court seeking to remove Michael as Terri's guardian. Deborah Bushnell, guardianship attorney for Michael, opposed the petition and asked Judge Greer to dismiss it out of hand, without a hearing.

Judge Greer denied Bushnell's motion for dismissal, and ruled that he will hear the Schindler's petition at a later date.

While this is admittedly a small, procedural, victory for the Schindlers, it is nonetheless important, as it means that the Schindlers will have the opportunity to challenge Michael's guardianship. Judge Greer could have dismissed it, on the grounds that the Schindlers have already sought to have Michael removed twice.

We need to keep praying, that the Schindlers may finally prevail in court.

Editor of Chicago Tribune Admits Abortion Bias

Don Wycliff, public editor of the Chicago Tribune, admitted in his column today that "some of our failures have been egregious."

In referring to recent stories dealing with abortion, particularly the Partial-Birth abortion ban, Wycliff wrote:
The perspective of those who define the issues involved in terms of "choice" was taken as normative, and the position of those who disagree with them and define the issues differently was characterized in "choice" terms. The result was two headlines that couldn't have been more slanted if they had come directly from the public relations office of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

He also described how a letter from Bill Beckman, the executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee, was edited by the Tribune so that "each of his uses of 'pro-life' was changed to 'anti-abortion...'"

Those who seek to have good called evil and evil called good first seek to change the language with which we speak of good and evil. Nowhere has that been more apparent than with abortion.


Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Save Birdies, Kill Children

A reader passed this story along from the Detroit News:

Hours after hundreds of hunters led by "Motor City Madman" Ted Nugent rallied on the Capitol steps, the Michigan House voted to remove a century-old state ban on the hunting of mourning doves. The tally was 64-44. The measure now heads to the Senate, where similar legislation failed by a single vote in 2000. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has not indicated if she would sign the controversial legislation. Lawmakers have been flooded with phone calls and e-mails from people on both sides of the issue.

"The cooing you hear are the doves who are mourning over this bill," Rep. Aldo Vagnozzi, D-Farmington Hills, said during a floor speech in which he failed to persuade colleagues to vote no.


Of course, we all know that Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who likes to wax rhapsodic about what her Catholic faith means to her, vetoed a state Partial-Birth Abortion Ban. If the bill goes to her, it will be interesting to see whether birds rate stronger protection under the law than children.

And the ringleader of those striving with all their might to save the birdies, Rep. Aldo Vagnozzi? He voted against the Partial-birth Abortion ban. And what religion, pray tell, is Vagnozzi?

Why he's Catholic, of course.

Not A Great Man

St. Blog's resident deranged genius, Victor Lams, has composed a song which captures the self-absorbed persona of Michael Schiavo.

I haven't made up my mind whether anything in the Terri Schiavo case, even Michael's posturing, is ready for parody or satire yet. But if it is, then Victor has done it brilliantly in his song, "Not a Great Man". It's got a great Techno-Hiphop sort of groove to it. Some of the choicer lyrics are:

I never said that I was a great man,
I'm just an average man who'd like to make some plans;
And you're standing in the way of this average man,
who'd like to move on just as soon as he can...

I promised to love you faithfully,
before you became such a burden to me...


Sometimes art can express what prose only strains at conveying.

Having Your Cake And Eating It

I think it's been pretty clear to most of my readers that I don't think much of Michael Schiavo. I find his story about Terri's "wish" to not be kept alive incredible, I find his efforts to portray himself as the caring husband unbelievable, and his attempt to portray Bob & Mary Schindler as the villains of the conflict contemptible. Furthermore, if, as I suspect, it was his actions which put Terri in her current state, his behavior would have been despicable.

These sentiments, as they have found their way into my writing about Terri, have prompted some to accuse me of "hating" Michael or of being uncharitable towards him. This, of course, is false. I don't hate Michael: I think he is pursuing an evil course of action against an innocent third person, and as such, it is my duty, and that of every other decent person, to try to stop him. If he relented from his relentless pursuit of Terri's death I'd be perfectly content to let him go about his life and never utter another word about him.

But I am not, in charity, obliged to pretend his actions and stated intentions are somehow less evil than they are, or to make believe that whatever good Michael might do in other spheres of his life somehow makes up for or negates the evil he is inflicting on Terri. That is, it would be silly for me to say, "Michael is nice to the child he had by his girlfriend, so he must be a decent guy, and he must have a point in wanting Terri dead." It is not charity to ignore or make light of evil actions or designs, especially when they involve the life of an innocent person.

Which brings me to my point. After reading today's article "The Guardian", by Wesley J. Smith, I realize now what it is about Michael's actions and statements that I find so reprehensible: It is that Michael is trying to have it both ways. He is trying to have his cake and eat it too.

The Schindlers have not made their allegations of abuse (which are founded on medical evidence), or disputed Michael's claim to be acting upon Terri's wishes out of some desire to hurt him. They have not challenged his self-touted image as the caring husband because they have some ill-will toward him. They're doing so, and I have taken up their cause, because his claims and image are false.

It was Michael who went to the court and, in effect, said, "my wife told me she didn't want to live like this, so please let me kill her." It was Michael who claimed that he was acting out of his love towards Terri. It was Michael who went on Larry King Live and tried to convince us that he was the caring and long-suffering husband.

And, as the Schindlers told me last week, they find his claims to be false and his pose as the loving husband to be unbelievable. I was convinced of that by what the Schindlers told me, what I read in court documents and medical testimony, and by Michael's own performance on Larry King.

The Schindlers told me that the first court-appointed guardian ad litem, Richard Pearse, found Michael to be incredible. Now, as Smith's article makes clear, Pearse's report and recommendations substantially support Bob & Mary Schindlers' statements to me:

Bob & Mary told me that Michael withheld treatment from Terri for an infection. The treatment consisted of a routine course of antibiotics. Mr. Pearse found that "Early in 1994, for example, he refused to consent to treat an infection from which the ward was then suffering and ordered that she not be resuscitated in the event of cardiac arrest. "

Furthermore, the Schindlers, in their account of the initial dispute that caused their estrangement, said that it became clear to them at that point that Michael didn't intend to follow through on his promises to seek rehabilitation for Terri. Mr. Pearse saw it the same way. Smith wrote:
Pearse confirmed the charge by the Schindlers that once the medical malpractice money was in the bank, Schiavo began to refuse medical treatment for Terri, writing:

After February 1993, Mr. Schiavo's attitude concerning treatment for the ward apparently changed.

And there were signs that that attitude had changed even earlier, as Mr. Pearse reported that Michael "admitted to the guardian ad litem that he had at least "two romantic involvements" after Terri's collapse. " Pearse concluded:
"It is apparent to me," Pearse wrote the court, "that he has reached a point that he has no hope of the ward's recovery and wants to get on with his own life." Smith adds: To say the least. At the time of Pearse's investigation, Schiavo was already living with the woman who would become the mother of his children.

Michael has proclaimed repeatedly his love for Terri. But men who love their wives stick by them, even when they are sick, disabled, or debilitated. Men who love their wives seek to have them treated if they are sick or disabled. They don't deny treatment in spite of doctor's urgings. And if love isn't sufficient or it is crushed under the weight of grief or despair, then duty and honor would urge any decent man to stay the course. As Mary Schindler once said to me, "if Michael loves her so much he could start by keeping his vows to her."

Michael is trying to have it both ways: he is seeks to exercise the prerogatives of a husband, when in fact he has not lived up to the responsibilities of a husband. He seeks the moral standing that a husband would have vis-a-vis his wife, but he has constructively not lived as Terri's husband since before he began his efforts to bring about her death.

When Michael took his vows to Terri, he committed himself to bear the burdens of marriage as well as enjoy its benefits. If he won't fulfill the one, he has no moral basis on which to enjoy the other. He can't have it both ways.

Mr. Pearse, as I wrote in my interview with the Schindlers last week, found that Michael's claim that Terri wouldn't want to live in her condition wasn't credible, saying:
his credibility is necessarily adversely affected by the obvious financial benefit to him of being the ward's sole heir at law in the event of her death while still married to him. Her death also permits him to get on with his own life.

The portrait of Michael that emerges from the Pearse report could hardly be at greater variance from his own representations. Upon scrutiny, his claims crumble into dust. He wants to be trusted as a loving husband, but we see a man who threw aside his marriage vows a long time ago. He wants us to believe that he has her best interests at heart, but he refused her routine treatment for illnesses having nothing to do with her primary disability. He wants us to believe that he is trying to live up to a promise he made to Terri, but he is revealed to have broken promises that he made repeatedly before he got the money in his hands.

He can't have it both ways.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Terri's Parents To Go On Larry King

Bob & Mary Schindler will be appearing on the Larry King Live program this Friday night. The show airs at 9:00 PM EST.

The Schindlers were able to persuade Larry King to drop his demand that they give him an "Exclusive" interview, that would have prevented them from going on other similar shows.

It will be interesting to see how Larry treats them in comparison to how he handled Michael Schiavo last week.



New Guardian ad litem Appointed

The court has appointed a new guardian ad litem in Terri's case, Mr. Jay Wolfson. The Schindlers had opposed his appointment out of concern that he was carrying "baggage" that indicated he might be prejudiced in this case. Apparently Mr. Wolfson has made statements in opposition to "Terri's Law".

However, the Schindlers say that it is too soon to tell what he is going to do or recommend in her case. He has agreed to visit Terri accompanied by Mr. Schiavo, and another visit accompanied by the Schindlers.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Anglican Crack-Up Commences

In keeping with its courageous efforts to ape the dominant culture whereby it knows better than Scripture, the Church Fathers, or Natural Law, the Episcopal Church, USA, consecrated the heroic prophet Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire yesterday.

In doing so, the Church was simply following its "different" interpretation of Scripture.

Now, Anglican churches of Africa, who have rejected the Griswoldian tradition of Scripture interpretation, are making good on their promise to break ties with the ECUSA.

"'We are not the ones breaking ties with the Diocese of New Hampshire, it is the one that has opted out of the fellowship,' AFP quoted Jackson Turyagenda, a spokesman for the central African church, as saying."

Thanks to Mark for the link.


Forensic Pathologist: Terri Was Likely Abused

Some have tried to dismiss the Schindlers' allegations that Terri's brain injury was the result of abuse. They have labelled those allegations as "11th hour", when in fact the Schindlers have been trying to get someone to pay attention to them for years. Judge Greer, oddly, ruled them "irrelevant". Others have rejected them as baseless.

But in fact, as forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden makes clear, the allegation of abuse is squarely founded on medical evidence:
"[The] bone scan describes her as having a head injury. That's why she's there. That's why she's getting a bone scan," Baden explained, "and a head injury can cause, lead to the 'vegetative state' that Ms. Schiavo is [allegedly] in now."

The doctor who completed her bone scan, Dr. W. Campbell Walker, reported "This patient has a history of trauma".

Dr. Baden also stated that Terri's injuries should have been investigated long ago:
The trauma could be from an auto accident, the trauma could be from a fall, or the trauma could be from some kind of beating that she obtained from somebody somewhere. It's something that should have been investigated in 1991.

Not only weren't they investigated then, but they still haven't been investigated now, 12 years later.

To paraphrase Judge Greer, it would be "interesting" to know what happened to her...

Friday, October 31, 2003

All Souls Day: Do Animals Go To Heaven?

Yesterday afternoon I went to visit my parish elementary school. As Sunday is All Souls Day, and since it only falls on a Sunday every seven years or so, I decided to make that the subject of my talks with the fourth and fifth graders.

So, after talking a little about All Souls Day itself, I talked to them about Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, and how we might end up in one of those places. All this talk of the Last Things led inevitably to the question in every child's mind: "Do Dogs and Cats (and, in one case, birds) go to heaven?" Fortunately I was not asked about hamsters, goldfish, lizards or turtles.

After a moment's consideration, I took a deep breath and plunged in: I said, "Well, I know you've probably heard that they do, and I'm sure you really want them to, but dogs and cats, and other animals, don't go to heaven when they die. Now that doesn't mean they go to hell, either," I added. "When they die, they just die, and they're gone."

The kids were universally skeptical about my assertion. They weren't buying it, not one bit. One girl asked, "Why not?" I explained that animals didn't have souls like people do. "Animals aren't like people," I said. "Animals don't think like we do, they don't make choices like we do. They don't," I concluded, "love like we do." One boy immediately objected "my dog loves me, I know he does." I replied, "I'm sure he does, in a way. But your dog doesn't love you like your mother does, does he?" The boy reluctantly conceded my point.

Another girl said, "I think animals will go to heaven, because God made everything alive to give Him honor and glory, and because of that everything that's alive will go to heaven." I had to admit she had made a good point. She'll probably grow up to be a theologian someday. If she were a boy she'd have probably ended up a Jesuit. But then I came up with a good retort: "Well, I don't think everything alive will go to heaven. After all, bacteria are alive, and I'm pretty sure there won't be any bacteria in heaven."

Finally, another girl said, "I know my cat is going to go to heaven because I love her very much." At that, I threw in the towel. How can I possibly argue with a child's love? So I said, "well, if you love your cat that much, maybe, just maybe, she might be able to go to heaven."

ACLJ To Enter Case On Behalf of Terri's Parents

The American Center for Law and Justice, a legal foundation specializing in constitutional law and the protection of human life, announced that they are intervening on behalf of Bob and Mary Schindler, the parents of Terri Schindler Schiavo.

Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, has filed suit in a Florida circuit court to have "Terri's Law" overturned as unconstitutional. The Florida legislature passed "Terri's Law", which enabled Governor Bush to intervene to save Terri, last Tuesday. The American Civil Liberties Union and pro-euthanasia organizations have intervened on behalf of Michael Schiavo and Felos.

"This is a very important case involving the state's ability to act to protect human life," said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. "We believe the lawsuit is legally flawed and that both the legislature and the Governor are well within their constitutional authority to take actions to save the life of Terri Schindler Schiavo. We are asking the court to permit the parents to intervene on this legal challenge and we're hopeful the court will agree."


With the ACLU and pro-euthanasia groups mobilizing to support Michael and to challenge Terri's Law, it's welcome news that some "big guns" are also coming in on the side of defending her life, and the lives of all the disabled. They'll be fighting an uphill battle, as it's already been made clear that the Florida courts are disposed to take at face value whatever Michael Schiavo and his pro-death doctors say.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

I'm Back Home Now

I just wanted to let all of you know that I'm back in Michigan now. I had an incredible experience in Florida with the Schindlers, Msgr. Malanowski, and their supporters.

Everyone was wonderful to me. Msgr. Malanowski was particularly generous to me. He is truly an outstanding priest.

I'll try to put together some sort of summary of my experiences and reactions to what I saw and took part in, but right now I'm still in a whirl.

Also, even though I'm no longer in Florida, I'm still closely in touch with the Schindlers, trying to make sure that they are heard. So I'll keep you updated as to further developments with Terri.

Thanks to everyone who helped me to get there, and for all your support and prayers.

Larry King To Hear Schindlers' Side?

A rumor has been going around the internet to the effect that Larry King Live is going to have Bob and Mary Schindler on the show next Thursday.

While the Schindlers have been in discussion with the Larry King show about an appearance, it's not a done deal yet. The problem is that Larry King wants another Exclusive!, like he had with Michael. If the Schindlers agreed to that, they would not be able to go on other shows, such as O'Reilly or Good Morning America, etc.

The Schindlers want to get their side of the story out there. Bob feels as though he has "been slandered" by Michael and wants to respond. But he and Mary are not willing to muzzle themselves in perpetuity for the privilege of going on Larry King's show.

No doubt, the power of Blogdom is in large part responsible for the fact that Larry King approached the Schindlers in the first place. The pressure of the e-mails and calls, combined with Michael's self-immolating performance, may have gotten someone at CNN to wake up and realize that Larry King's puff-piece method of advocacy journalism just won't cut it when it comes to life and death issues.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Now Revised: Complete With Part Two!

Schindlers Respond to Schiavo's Larry King Love-Fest


[ For those readers who have already read Part I, scroll down to "Part II" ]

Sorry to miss posting an update yesterday. It was kind of a crazy day, with more things to do than I had time to do them, including travelling, which limits my access to the Internet.

I watched the whole Larry King interview with Michael Schiavo Monday night, and I took note of a number of issues he addressed which didn't seem consistent with things that either Terri's family told me, or that I had read.

While Michael was on Larry King, Terri's father Bob Schindler was on Hannity & Colmes, so he didn't see the interview. Terri's mother Mary watched the first few minutes, but she said she turned it off because she couldn't stand to watch Michael lie on TV.

I questioned Bob and Mary about several of the claims that Michael made on the Larry King show, and they had quite a bit to say in response.

CNN trumpeted their interview with Michael Schiavo Monday night as an "Exclusive". I guess that means that Bob & Mary Schindler's response, which I present to you here, is also an "Exclusive!".


Part I

I started off by asking them, "Michael claimed that after he won his settlement, you confronted him in Terri's room at the nursing home, and demanded money. Is that true?" Bob replied categorically that that is not what happened that day. "I never asked him for money, ever," Bob said. Bob admits that he got into an argument with Michael that day, but it was over Michael's promise to use Terri's settlement money for rehabilitation.

Bob and Mary had gone to visit Terri, and found Michael sitting in her room at the nursing home, reading a book. After some small talk, Bob said to Michael, "We can use some of that money now to take Terri to Shands [the Shands Medical Center at the University of Florida in Gainesville] for rehab." Bob explained to me that the doctor who oversaw Terri's treatment in California, a Dr. Youngling [Bob isn't sure of the spelling], recommended that they take her to Shands. Michael alluded to this treatment in his Larry King interview, saying that the attempts to stimulate Terri using implants didn't work. Bob and Mary confirm that those treatments didn't work as hoped, but that the doctor had nonetheless observed some improvement in Terri's condition, and he recommended they take her to Shands for a different course of treatment. Bob had wanted to bring her to Shands right away, but Michael insisted on waiting to do so until after he received a settlement.

Michael received the settlement in January of '93, and this confrontation took place in February. "A month had gone by since he [Michael] had gotten the money, and he hadn't done anything yet," Bob explained, nor had Michael said anything about what he planned to do.

Mary said that Michael appeared to ignore Bob, so Bob repeated his remark. At this point, Mary said, "Michael looked up, threw his book against the wall, then he stood up and kicked the tray table by Terri's bed, and went into the hall." The Schindlers followed him into the hall, and Bob, angry at this point, reminded Michael that he had "promised to use the money for Terri's rehab." Michael then ran down the hall, turned back and yelled at Bob and Mary, "I'm going to call my lawyer, and you'll never see your daughter again." At this point Michael's lawyer was not George Felos. Felos only became involved once Michael sought Terri's death.

Bob repeated to me that he has never asked Michael for any of Terri's settlement money. He said, "I tried to remind him of his promise." A promise, Mary added, that Michael had made under oath. This promise may not be legally binding, but the Schindlers certainly regard it as morally binding.

About a month after this incident, the Schindlers were informed that Michael had cut off their access to Terri's medical information. Terri's doctors and nurses were not to discuss Terri's medical condition with the Schindlers. Bob & Mary are still denied access to medical information about their daughter.

They learned later that shortly after this, Michael gave a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order for Terri. This struck the Schindlers as odd, since Terri was in no danger of death. Also, up to this point Michael had yet to say anything about Terri's supposed wish not be kept alive in her condition.

The nursing home staff was sympathetic to the Schindlers, and frequently gave them information in spite of Michael's medical "gag order." In July of that year, Bob & Mary were told that Terri had a serious urinary tract infection. The nursing home staff also told them that Michael had ordered the nursing home not to treat the infection, which treatment would have consisted of a simple course of antibiotics. The staff were worried, because left untreated, the infection would eventually cause sepsis and Terri's death. Bob and Mary were powerless to do anything, but fortunately the nursing home eventually gave the antibiotics anyway, and Terri recovered.

At this point, Bob & Mary made their first attempt to have Michael removed as guardian. In his deposition for this proceeding, Michael admitted that he had ordered the nursing home to deny Terri treatment for the infection, and that left untreated, the infection would have caused Terri's death. Bob and Mary then explained that when asked in the deposition if he would do something like that again, he said he couldn't "because the law prevented him from acting in that way." When asked why he did it, he responded that he "didn't think Terri would want to live like this." Notice that Michael said he didn't think so. Bob said, "he had the perfect opportunity there to talk about Terri's 'wish' not to be kept alive, and he didn't." In fact, it was another 5 years before they heard anything about Terri's supposed wish not to be kept alive.

The judge denied the Schindler's petition to have Michael removed as guardian. 3 years later (1996), they tried again to have Michael removed as guardian, and were again refused. This in spite of testimony from the administrator of Terri's second nursing home that Michael had given similar orders to them to deny potentially life-saving treatment to Terri. Fortunately, that nursing home also decided to go against Michael's wishes and administered appropriate medications.

I would add that this was not the last of Michael's attempts to cause Terri's death by denying medication for perfectly treatable ailments. When Terri developed pneumonia earlier this year, Michael's attorney George Felos asked the judge if medication could be denied to Terri for the pneumonia. He wanted her to be removed from the hospital, returned to the hospice, and "allowed" to die "naturally". Fortunately, even Judge Greer thought this beyond the pale and ordered her treatment continued.

I also asked Bob and Mary about Michael's claim that Bob had offered him $700,000 to walk away and let them take care of Terri. Bob admitted that after Terri's feeding tube was restored the first time, he did offer Michael money, but that it was more like $500,000. Bob explained, "that was our attorney's idea [at that time their attorney was Jim Eckert]. He thought that since Michael was after Terri's money, let's give him what he wants to make him go away." I asked Bob and Mary how they intended to come up with the money. Bob replied, "we didn't know. Jim [their lawyer] thought we could raise the money somehow, but first we had to get Michael to agree to the idea." I asked him if any pro-life or other "right-wing" group ever offered him money for that purpose. He laughed and said no, nothing like that ever happened.

Furthermore, as to the contention that the Schindlers are being put up to their defense of Terri's life by "right-wing" pro-life groups, Bob & Mary Schindler dismiss it as ridiculous. "The first offers of assistance we got from national pro-life or conservative groups was about two weeks ago", Bob said. Furthermore, the assistance offered was in terms of organization and mobilizing grass-roots support, not financial support. "We actually approached a couple of organizations back in 2000 after the first trial", Bob added, "but they weren't interested in getting involved at that time."

Indeed, the Schindlers have fought for more than a decade with little more than their own resources and some local help. After the first trial in 2000, "Professionals For Excellence", a local organization of conservative professionals, offered some help, and since then have occasionally contributed the expertise of their members in publicity, legal opinions, and other organizational assistance. According to Bob, Pat Anderson, their lead attoney, has worked on Terri's case largely pro bono with some occasional grants from legal foundations.

The Schindlers started the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation to get the word out about Terri's plight and to raise money to help defray the considerable expenses they have incurred in their efforts to save her. In the past three years, Bob Schindler estimates that the foundation has raised "about $40,000." "In addition to that," Bob continued, "Msgr. Malanowski [the priest who has been offering spiritual support and guidance to the family for the past few years] raised about another $10,000."

Far from being well-financed pawns of "right-wing" groups and pro-lifers, Bob and Mary have been crying out for years to get someone to listen to them, someone to help them. Finally, within the last few weeks, they've begun to be heard, and there has been an outpouring of support for which they're truly grateful.


Part II

Michael Schiavo went into some detail on Larry King describing the circumstances of the injury which caused Terri to be in her present state. Michael claimed that he woke up in the middle of the night, then heard a loud thud. He went out into the hall, he said, and saw Terri lying in the hallway. She was, he said, unconscious. Michael then stated that he called Terri's brother Bobby, who lived in the same apartment complex as Terri and Michael. He then said that Bobby told him to call 911 and that he would come over. Michael claimed that he was holding Terri in his arms when Bobby arrived. The paramedics arrived a short time later and began to try to revive her. I asked the Schindlers how his account meshed with what they knew happened at the time.

Bob Schindler replied "that isn't what happened at all. What happened was that Michael called us first, and I answered the phone. He told me that Terri had collapsed and was unconscious. I told him to call 911. Then I called Bobby and told him to get over there. I said 'something's going on over there, get over there right now.'" Bob also said that Michael's claim that he was holding Terri in his arms was untrue. "When Bobby arrived at their place," Bob explained, "he found Terri lying face down in the hallway, with her feet over the threshold of the doorway, as though she had been coming out of the bedroom. Her hands were clutched around her throat, and her breathing was gurgling. Michael was sitting on the couch in the living room; he was a total basket case."

Michael also said on "Larry King Live" that Terri was bulimic prior to that night, and that her bulimia was possibly the cause of the potassium imbalance which was discovered when she was in the hospital. Bob & Mary also find this assertion incredible. Bob's reaction was "Poppycock!" Terri, they said, was quite healthy and had a healthy appetite prior to her injury. None of her friends or family ever saw any signs of any eating disorder, and there was no medical evidence of it found in her examinations.

This "potassium imbalance" is frequently touted as the explanation of what caused Terri's collapse. But it is an explanation that explains nothing. Indeed, doctors for the Schindlers testified in court, and reiterated at their news conference last Friday (October 24, 2003) that the potassium imbalance was only detected after she was brought to the hospital. This is after the paramedics had been working on her to revive her. Part of such treatment is the injection of various drugs and electrolytes to try to stimulate the heart. These injections were very likely the cause of the potassium imbalance. The potassium imbalance was an effect of her collapse and subsequent treatment, and not the cause of anything.

Terri's heart stopped for several minutes that night, and that stoppage caused the brain damage that led to her current condition. It is frequently asserted in press accounts that Terri had a "heart attack." This too is false. There was no heart attack, and again, doctors have testified to that effect. A heart attack causes the release of certain enzymes into the bloodstream. These enzymes are readily discovered in tests and are used as the "markers" of a heart attack. No such enzymes were found in Terri's bloodstream, nor any other evidence of a heart attack. Terri's heart was and is quite healthy: there was no heart attack.

So what happened to cause Terri to lose consciousness? No one is sure, because there was never a proper investigation. The Schindlers do not accept Michael's version of what happened to Terri. Also, Bob related, "it's in the medical record that when Terri was brought into the hospital she had bruises around her neck." Doctors for the Schindlers have testified that those bruises were consistent with manual strangulation. Furthermore, skull x-rays and head CT scans done about a year after her injury indicated fractures to the occipital region which have never been explained. These fractures are consistent with trauma to the head.

The theory that Terri was strangled gains plausibility when one considers that friends and siblings of Terri's testified that they were aware that Michael had abused Terri prior to the night of her injury. Bob & Mary were not aware of this themselves before Terri's injury. "I found out afterwards," Bob said, "that they [Terri's friends and brother] had been keeping that from me." But, Bob, explained, Terri's best friend, Jackie Rhoades, testified at the 1996 guardianship hearing that she knew Terri was being abused, that she frequently saw her with bruises on her arms and legs, and that Terri was afraid of Michael. Jackie further stated that Terri intended to divorce Michael, and that she and Terri were making plans to do that. Terri's brother Bobby also testified to his knowledge of Terri's abuse, and corroborated much of Jackie's testimony.

These allegations and the evidence behind them have been brought to court in the Schindlers' suits to have Michael removed as guardian, but have never been properly investigated. Judge Greer dismissed these allegations with a wave of his judicial wand, saying that "it would be interesting to know what happened," but that it was "irrelevant to this case." Judge Greer disregarded Jackie's and Bobby's testimony, saying that it was hearsay. That ruling will prove to be interesting in light of the judge's ruling regarding other secondhand testimony in this case.

On the Larry King Show, Michael also contended that he was not after Terri's settlement money. As evidence of this he said that he had offered three times to give that money to charity. Bob and Mary Schindler confirm that he did make such an offer, but only once. During the first effort to remove Terri's feeding tube, in 1998, the Schindlers received a letter from Michael's lawyer George Felos containing the offer. But that offer, they explained, was contingent on their agreement to remove Terri's feeding tube. "He said he'd give the money away if I agreed to kill my daughter," Bob explained. He added that the letter stipulated that the offer to give the money away was off the table after 10 days.

Why, I asked, did Michael make such an odd proposal? "Well, that's interesting," Bob answered. "See, the court appointed a guardian ad litem to determine Michael's fitness as guardian. His name was Richard Pearse. Pearse said that Michael had a conflict of interest as guardian because he stood to inherit the money in Terri's fund if Terri died. Pearse said that Michael couldn't be impartial in his decisions." "So," Bob continued, "that offer and the letter was Felos' attempt to remove the appearance of conflict."

Mr. Pearse, in his role as guardian ad litem, also found that Michael's testimony regarding Terri's purported wish not to live if she required artificial support was "not credible." So what happened to the perspicacious Mr. Pearse, as a result of his observing Michael's obvious conflict of interest and the flimsiness of his story regarding Terri's wishes? He was removed as guardian ad litem by Judge Greer, at Felos' request.

Michael has repeatedly asserted that he so doggedly pursues Terri's death because he is trying to "honor her wishes", because he loves her. Michael asserts that he heard Terri voice this wish while watching a television show that involved a person in a vegetative state. I asked Bob & Mary about this "wish" of Terri's. "She never said anything like that", Mary answered. "Not to any of us." When was the first time you ever heard about this wish, I asked. "It was in 1998," Bob replied, "during the first trial" [to remove Terri's feeding tube]. "We never heard anything about that before." The reader will recall that Michael had an opportunity to explain that "wish" during the 1993 court proceedings, but for some reason did not.

But, I asked, Michael said that his story has been corroborated. And some defenders of Michael emphasize that the court found his testimony "clear and convincing". What about that? "What the court found so convincing," Bob replied, "was that Michael brought out his brother and sister-in-law, and they corroborated him. And Felos brought them out at the last minute, shortly before the trial. They weren't on the original witness list. Felos blindsided us."

I was, frankly, astonished. I'm no lawyer, but I know enough to find that somewhat irregular. Didn't your lawyer object? I asked. "Oh, yeah, Bob said. "She objected all over the place. They weren't on the witness list, and they were never deposed before the trial, but the judge allowed them in."

You'll recall that Judge Greer disallowed the testimony of Jackie Rhoades and Bobby Schindler regarding Terri's abuse, because it was hearsay. But Michael's testimony, and that of his never-deposed brother and sister-in-law, were allowed in, and found "clear and convincing". It would seem that in Judge Greer's courtroom, some kinds of hearsay are more convincing than others.

Michael has repeatedly avowed his continuing love for Terri. He did so again on "Larry King Live". Bob & Mary find his love of a rather strange variety. "If he loved her so much," Mary said, "he could start by keeping his marriage vows to her," obviously referring to Michael's live-in girlfriend, with whom he has fathered two children. Furthermore, they find his protestations of love unbelievable in light of his almost total neglect of her. "In the beginning he used to visit her a lot," Mary told me. "But after '93, he visited less and less often."

Bob related that while he was still working [he is now retired], he used to visit Terri at the nursing home "once or twice a week" on his way home from work. He and Mary, he added, visited Terri together on the weekends. "We never saw him at the nursing home," Mary said, "and he was never listed on the sign-in sheet."

Nursing home staff complained to the Schindlers that they could never reach Michael. "They needed to talk to him about things concerning her care," Bob said. "But they'd leave messages and he didn't call back." The director of Terri's second nursing home, David Cross, testified in the 1996 guardianship hearing that he "had a difficult time" with Michael. The state, Bob explained to me, requires that nursing home administrators have monthly meetings with family representatives regarding patient care. Mr. Cross testified that Michael never asked for or came to such meetings, and that created problems for the nursing home's compliance with the law. Cross also testified that Michael never made arrangements for state-required annual physicals either, forcing the nursing home to arrange them itself.

Bob and Mary assert that since 2000, Michael has rarely visited Terri. "The only time he visits Terri," Bob said, "is when a hearing is coming up, and then Felos stages a visit so Michael can say in court that he visited her recently."

I wondered if Michael didn't visit Terri because he feels like he has "moved on" with his life. Larry King asked Michael why he didn't just move on, why he didn't just divorce Terri and marry his girlfriend. Michael said that he's "content with the way things are," with his girlfriend. He told Larry he had no plans to marry her.

"Right," Bob said in an ironic tone. "He said under oath at the 2000 trial that as soon as Terri died, he would marry his girlfriend."