Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Cost of Upholding Life

If the case for eradicating Terri Schiavo is so airtight, why do the hemlockers and their fellow-travelers have to engage in threats and intimidation to bully their opponents into silence?

A registered nurse who took care of Terri Schiavo last weekend at the Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida, says she was threatened with dismissal if she told the press what she saw."

[My agency] said that if I went to the media at all that I would be fired," Nora Lynn Wagner told ABC Radio host Sean Hannity.

Wagner's response? "I said, 'Well, then - consider me fired.'"

The agency, which Wagner did not identify, was nervous about the case, she said, since it had an ongoing contract with Woodside.

Wagner said that when she arrived to work the Sunday night shift, other nurses had begun to circulate a petition saying that they were appalled at the federal government's intervention in the Schiavo case.

"Most everyone who spoke up thought that pulling the tube" was the right thing to do, because "Terri wouldn't want to live like that," Wagner said.

"I had the opposite opinion. I said, 'No, I'd rather not sign it,'" she recalled.

The RN described her disagreement with co-workers as "a healthy debate" - but at least some of the participants were spooked by her comments.

"Apparently some people got upset and Monday afternoon at 3:30 I got a call from my agency saying that I was no longer to go back to Woodside."

The RN backed the accounts of other Schiavo nurses over the years, saying that Terri "seemed to have responded to me."

Wagner said she decided to come forward despite the threats to her livelihood, explaining: "This was important to me. I was not going to be threatened. This is still America - even in Florida."

Is it? Look at the turns of phrase - "threatened with dismissal" if she exercised her First Amendment right to free expression; her employer "nervous about the case" because of its contract with Mrs. Schiavo's hospice; a nursing staff either cowed into pre-emptively backing Mrs. Schiavo's murder or affirmatively converted to the death cult. And Ms. Wagner's co-workers apparently leaning on her to sign on to their "pull the plug" petition, which she merely demurred. "Sign this or else," in blunter terms. And some of her co-workers "spooked" by her quiet but firm stand for life.

What's being done to Terri Schiavo is an unspeakable outrage. I daresay it's at least quasi-Naziesque. But what is as frightening is the notion that there's something outrageous - and unconstitutional! - about the people's elected representatives attempting, as is their constitutionally appointed role, to rein in an out of control judiciary that is denying a citizen her right to due process before the taking of her life. Even worse is that so many ostensibly level-headed people are regurgitating this propaganda verbatim without either a cursory grounding in the full facts of the case (Big Media's been full-court pressing the disinformation) or an even passing knowledge of constitutional law. Ditto the ersatz born-again federalism washing over the fruited plain in the past few days.

The grossly ignorant attack on Congress' emergency legislation allowing federal review of the Schiavo case as "overreaching" and "unconstitutional" is really just the inevitable knee-jerk reaction that any substantial, broadbased challenge to what has become the almost Olympian power of the Judiciary as final arbiter of any and all issues was inevitably going to trigger. It's a mark of how powerful the courts have become, and how grieviously our supposedly democratic system has been subverted, that the very idea of a judge's decision even being questioned outside the robed pantheon is eliciting hysterics not far from akin to a Jew walking into a Wahabbist mosque during evening prayers and exclaiming, "Allah sucks!"

Congress and the White House coming to the rescue of an attempted-murder victim targeted by her state's court system itself was both constitutional, right, just, and a heartening indication that American culture, diseased and debased as it is, isn't quite dead yet.

But the thuggery being brought to bear to snuff out Terry Schaivo and any and all support for her right to live is demoralizing evidence that it is not far from a "persistent vegetative state."