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 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

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
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,, 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.

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.