Friday, March 11, 2005


When Ideology Comes Before Reality

"'You don't understand the situation. We are anti-imperialists, anti-capitalists, communists,'
they said. The Iraqis only kidnap American sympathizers, the enemies of the Americans have
nothing to fear."

So said three Italian women, including Guiliana Sgrenia according to veteran journalist Harald Doornbos, who safely went to Baghdad on the same flight and advised them differently.. Read Tom Elia's analysis of this sad story of not realizing the difference between one's political rhetoric and the reality of the world in his excellent piece "Journalist as Rube."

Sometimes the world we would like isn't like that at all.


The Real Million Dollar Baby?

Chuck Colson has a piece about the story which may have been the inspiration for the story Million Dollar Baby, and this one has a happier ending. Worth a read, in part, because it shows that the value of human life, dignity, courage and love are worth more than an existential tear jerker.

Colson quotes journalist Sandy Allyson saying what I think are some true words:
“We can have peace and happiness,” she writes, “in the midst of situations that might have previously been thought of as unendurable. That is just one reason why virtually all disability advocacy groups . . . are so vehemently opposed to this idea of ‘helping’ someone die, which may sound warm and fuzzy, but in the searing light of truth, is just murder.”

Think about it.



I took a couple of days off blogging because sometimes, when you look hard at the world and the values it seems to embrace, it's disheartening.

Death is valued over life, if the person doing the valuing doesn't think that the life involved has worth. But this is an awful lot like getting older. When you are six, twelve seem old, and when you are 15, forty seems forever. But when you are forty, sixty doesn't seem so old after all. The same is true with quality of life issues.

We strip personhood from people we deem to be undesirable. The unwanted unborn, the unwanted crippled, the unwanted. Once they lose their personhood, then people find ways to do whatever they want with them.

We see this acted out in multiple ways:

Abortion, of course. The ultimate sacrifice of personhood. It's not a person, just some tissue, therefore we can do what we want with the unborn. The mentally damaged, like Terri Schaivo.

But it becomes more subtle than that. Some places, its anti-woman. You commit a crime against another person in some places in the world, the females in your family or extended family can be made to pay part of the price with their own body, and then they are expected to kill themselves because they were ritually made impure.

In Darfur, it's perfectly ok to go and rape the darker ones because they are just whatever, infidels, darkskinned, or whatever. Their personhood doesn't count. You can see this pattern all over the world. Your group doesn't matter because you aren't like us. You don't have full-fledged personhood.

In America, it's even more subtle. For some, the person who has inadequate personhood is the person who disagrees with you politically. This person is open to having their tires slashed, their car keyed, property vandalized, to be told they should be euthanized, to be denied freedom of association, to be belittled in classrooms. For some, behaving like a normal member of your sex is enough to get your personhood threatened.

Yet there is a higher way to behave than Carthago delenda est.

Our country was founded on this idea, that goes back to the sacredness of human life, the respect in theory at least, of a variety of viewpoints, and a commonality of humanness that gives us all value:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

This concept, derived in large part, no doubt from the Judeo-Christian idea that we are all children of God, and all worthy to be treated with respect, give us a way around the denial of personhood that leads to so much of the world's tragedies.

It is an ideal, of course, one that fails often in the reality of day to day life, but one we should keep to the forefront. Like Abraham Lincoln, I would like to say:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us ... and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Can there be true dignity of man, true freedom that does not acknowledge the personhood of all people, rich, poor, high status, low status, vunerable, weak, strong and able?

We saw the ripples through the middle east of the taste of liberty that the Iraqi elections created, because the hope of another way, based on human worth.

Cathago delenda est
, the way of might making right is not the only way. But without valuing human life, there can be no true basis for liberty.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Victory for Freedom of the Press at University of Oregon

It is important for people to always realize that true freedom of speech means you will not always be happy with the opposition - but that they do have a right to speak. Taking away that right is not American, and is against the Constitution.

March 3, 2005

FIRE Press Release

EUGENE, Ore., March 3, 2005—The Oregon Commentator, a conservative student magazine, has won a three-month-long battle for press freedom against the University of Oregon (UO) student government. The Commentator had been derecognized and denied funding after it published items satirizing a transgendered student senator. Acting in response to student complaints, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) intervened, writing letters to the administration and to relevant campus leaders. On March 2, FIRE learned that the student government had reversed its unconstitutional actions and re-recognized the Commentator.

“We are pleased that the Commentator has finally been restored to its rights,” remarked David French, president of FIRE. “It is shameful, however, that the administration allowed this brazen and flatly unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination to persist for so many months,” he continued.

The Commentator’s trouble with UO’s student government, the Associated Students of the University of Oregon (ASUO), began in December 2004, after a transgendered student senator complained of being offended after being mocked in the magazine. ASUO’s Program Finance Committee (PFC) subsequently rejected the publication’s mission statement, which, according to Commentator staff, has remained unchanged for the past 21 years. The PFC revisited the issue on February 1, 2005, to clarify the reasons for its decision. During this discussion, several PFC members publicly denied the committee’s constitutional obligation to distribute student fees on a viewpoint-neutral basis. When Commentator staff members explained that the PFC was legally obligated to uphold free speech under the First Amendment, one PFC member argued that he felt justified in disobeying an “unjust law,” meaning the First Amendment’s requirement of viewpoint neutrality in student fee funding. At the end of the meeting, a second PFC decision left the Commentator, again, derecognized and ineligible for funding.

The Commentator immediately contacted FIRE for assistance. On February 11, FIRE wrote UO President Dave Frohnmayer to protest the student government’s actions. FIRE explained to President Frohnmayer that “[a]s a state institution, the university and its administrators should understand that it has a non-delegable duty to ensure that the First Amendment rights of its students are protected.” (Emphasis in original.)

In a February 15 response to FIRE, President Frohnmayer stated that it would be “unwise and premature” for him to intervene in the funding process and remarked that he had “confidence [that] the final decision regarding funding of the Oregon Commentator will be viewpoint neutral.” In other words, Frohnmayer appeared to recognize the illegality of the PFC’s action but was unwilling to take any action to correct it.

“President Frohnmayer’s refusal to correct the PFC was irresponsible,” commented Greg Lukianoff, FIRE’s director of legal and public advocacy. “The students needed guidance on the law from the administration, and from President Frohnmayer’s response it looks as though the students were never provided with the guidance they needed—until FIRE decided to write the students directly.”

In light of the UO administration’s refusal to act, FIRE wrote a February 21 open letter to the ASUO and to the student media explaining that the Commentator’s expression was fully protected satire, and that “denial of constitutional rights, even for a day, constitutes ‘irreparable harm’ and can open an institution to liability for denying these rights.” (Emphasis in original.) The letter also requested that ASUO immediately recognize the Commentator and restore fundamental rights to all UO students.

On March 1, 2005, the PFC met again and this time approved the mission statement of the magazine, clearing the way for the magazine to be funded on a viewpoint-neutral basis. The Commentator’s budget was even increased by 5.63 percent, according to the Oregon Daily Emerald, the daily student paper at UO.

“We certainly hope that the ASUO—and the UO administration—has learned its lesson and that, from now on, student fees will not be used as a tool to favor or disfavor particular viewpoints. FIRE will continue to monitor the situation at UO to ensure that this attempt at censorship does not happen again,” concluded FIRE’s French.

FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process, freedom of expression, academic freedom, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty at UO and on campuses across America can be viewed at

Greg Lukianoff, Director of Legal and Public Advocacy, FIRE: 215-717-3473;
David French, President, FIRE: 215-717-3473;
Dave Frohnmayer, President, University of Oregon: 541-346-3036;


Modern Academic Diversity at Work

I don't know all the details of this case, but it sort of dovetails with Bill Maher's recent statement about those who believe in God have a mental problem:

Jury selection began today (March 7) in a federal trial in which a public university in Pennsylvania is being sued because school officials tried to have a Christian student involuntarily committed to a mental hospital.

Back in 1999 Temple University sponsored the controversial and blasphemous play Corpus Christi, in which Christ is portrayed as a homosexual. Michael Marcavage, then a Christian student at the Philadelphia school, complained to administrators. Temple officials eventually tried to have Marcavage committed to a mental institution because of his opposition to the play.

Steve Crampton, an attorney with the AFA Center for Law & Policy, says it is to Marcavage's credit that he relied on God throughout his clash with the university and became stronger as a result of the experience. "Of course," the lawyer notes, "that doesn't excuse the wrongdoing." He says the AFA Law Center is expecting and hoping the jury will recognize the 1999 incident for what it is.

The complaint filed on the former Temple student's behalf alleges that two university officials "unlawfully and intentionally assaulted and forcibly restrained" Marcavage on November 2, 1999, and then unlawfully ordered police to handcuff and transport him to the university hospital, where he was involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluation.

Crampton believes the Pennsylvania school tried to muzzle Marcavage's religious viewpoint, ignoring his First Amendment rights in the process. "So we expect and hope that the jury will want to send a message to Temple and to its officials that interference with constitutional rights simply can't be tolerated," the pro-family attorney says.

Academic diversity too often means, I will respect your diveristy if it's one of the groups I think are cool - but if it's not I will try to crush you. I don't know the details of how they tried to push this person, but doing things they call art which are blashpemous to someone's religious beliefs may be an exercise in free speech - but it also is not grounds to try to crush the free speech of another who wants to protest it.

Monday, March 07, 2005


Want to send a letter? has a webform mail program that you can use to send a letter to Jeb Bush, or the Florida Senate President or the House Speaker regarding Terri Schaivo. You can write your own message or send the form letter. Click here to check it out.


Sickness - body, soul, culture

Ronan Mullen writes:

We want to deny ageing, sickness and death more than we ever did before. It’s not just that many of us botox our bodies out of their natural state. Sick and elderly people are made to believe they are a burden on society or their relatives and are encouraged to despise their condition. In Holland, what started out as ‘mercy killing’ soon became voluntary euthanasia. Before long, it wasn’t even the elderly person’s call any more. Now relatives and friends are the ones to determine a sick person’s ‘best interests’. Involuntary euthanasia is widespread and some old people in Holland prefer to attend doctors over the border in Germany because they are apprehensive about what might happen locally. Meanwhile, Britain’s best-known bioethicist, Baroness Warnock, who was feted by the Irish Commission for Assisted Human Reproduction at a recent conference here, has suggested that elderly people should request euthanasia rather than linger on as a burden on their families.

I have a friend who had a really bad case of Gillian Barre, that left her unable to walk, with limited use of her hands, but a very sound mind. She is officially a quadreplegic. And yet, because she has a husband that loves her and takes care of her, kindly, even acting as her assistant at work for those tasks that her hands can't manage, she has a rich and full life.

Some people would think she should ask to die because they don't want to think of life that way (or perhaps because they think that being such a burden on her husband is unfair, or just on general principles that the handicapped are somehow less deserving of living.)

When it is your turn to face that time of weakness, of being frail and vunerable, sick, but yet still able to contribute, loving your grandchildren, your spouse, the light of a summer's day, your favorite movie, do you want them to come and tell you it's time to go? Just because you're in the way?

This is the direction the world is heading. And it's a sadness.


A Perspective on Love, Life, and Terri's Plight

This is a piece out of an essay written by J.B. Williams, and is something to think about in the struggle for Terri's life.

Meanwhile, Terri’s life remains of great value to those who have loved her since birth, those who never loved her for her outward beauty, her ability to cook and clean, to perform the expected duties of a wife. Those who simply loved her for who she was, their daughter, their friend, loved her for who she still is today in their hearts and minds.

I have now seen enough of the allegations concerning the husband’s questionable behavior throughout this affair. I have seen the medical report ordered by the court, and the review by independent physicians I trust personally.

This matter could not possibly be any more cut and dried than it is… To remove Terri’s feeding tube is no different than denying a plate of food to millions sitting in nursing homes across this country, just because they are physically unable to pick up a fork or spoon and feed themselves…or unable to swallow…

My father has Alzheimer’s and while he remains able to feed himself today, there well may come a day when he is not able to anymore. If and when that day comes, I will happily help him eat… When he no longer knows my name or my face, I will remind him daily. When he is no longer able to manage even restroom visits, I will gladly manage them for him, as he managed mine before I learned to manage them myself…

This is all a part of life…the caring for each other, those who represent great value in our lives.

To deny Terri’s parents the chance to care for her on the basis that her husband no longer has a use for her should not be a debate, it should be a crime…

This matter is just that simple… I stand for Terri, who still has great value in this world, who only requires love and care and basic nourishment to sustain life…all the same things you and I require… I fear what our society has become if we allow her to be starved to death… Who will be next?

At the end of the day, it seems to me that every life is precious to someone and it should be. We must respect every life, no matter how imperfect, or we will risk respecting none… Some things can be subjective… The value of life is not one of them!

Sunday, March 06, 2005


Upcoming Events for Terri Schaivo

From Justice for Terri Schaivo

Monday - March 7, 2005 - 1.30pm
Hearing on 10 Motions, including permitting Terri to be fed by mouth should her feeding tube be removed.
Clearwater Courthouse
315 Court Street
Clearwater, Florida (MAP)

Tuesday - March 8, 2005 - 3.00pm
Hearing on medical motions and Karen Ann Quinlan testimony
Clearwater Courthouse
315 Court Street
Clearwater, Florida (MAP)

Wednesday - March 9, 2005 - 1.30pm
Hearing on DCF intervention and stay
Clearwater Courthouse
315 Court Street
Clearwater, Florida (MAP)

Thursday - March 10, 2005 - 1.30pm
Potential slip-over hearings
Clearwater Courthouse
315 Court Street
Clearwater, Florida (MAP)

Saturday - March 12, 2005 - 2.00pm
Vigil and Press Conference
Woodside Hospice
6770 102nd Avenue North
Pinellas Park, FL (MAP)

Sunday - March 13, 2005 - TBA
Rallies in Largo and Tallahassee

To keep up with the updates, go to Justice For Terri Schaivo.

I am reminded of a song that was influencial in my own youth about justice - If you believe in justice, if you believe in freedom, then do what you can. Write. Call. Pray. Pass the word around. Be there. But do something.


Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Saw this piece by Matt Wallace and wanted to share it, because on a blog that is dedicated most to the goals of freedom enshrined by the American constitution to all of its members, vunerable, powerful, and inbetween, this struck a real chord:

As I contemplate the Declaration of Independence on the anniversary of its signing, I am chastened by the tragic fact that too many Americans are denied their "unalienable rights" of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Ironically, these same rights are used as an argument for alienating these oppressed and persecuted Americans from their rights as human beings. These Americans are the more than one million preborn children violently killed annually by abortion.

We cherish the freedom to order our lives in the most personally satisfying way. Abortion denies preborn Americans this right to the pursuit of happiness.

We cherish the freedom which empowers us to take advantage of our myriad opportunities. Abortion denies preborn Americans this right to liberty.

We cherish the life for which freedom is so vitally important. Abortion denies preborn Americans this right to life.

The mother's right to go on about her life without even taking nine months off for the sake of a person she helped bring into existance says that her rights are more valuable than the rights of her unborn child. Her inconvenience is worth the death of another.

That's a pretty high price for convenience.

Sort of goes against the founding dream of life, liberty, pursuit of happiness for one and for all. Can't do much pursuing if you don't get a chance to live.

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