From The National Review Online:
Torturing Terri Schiavo
Torturing Terri Schiavo
She’d be better off if she were a terrorist.
by Andrew McCarthy
A few months back, I wrote an article for Commentary arguing that we ought to reconsider our anti-torture laws. The argument wasn’t novel. It echoed contentions that had been made with great persuasive force by Harvard’s Professor Alan Dershowitz: that under circumstances of imminent harm to thousands of moral innocents (the so-called “ticking bomb” scenario), it would be appropriate to inflict, under court-supervision, intense but non-lethal pain in an effort to wring information from a morally culpable person — a terrorist known to be complicit in the plot.
As one might predict with such a third rail, my mail was copious and indignant. Opening the door by even a sliver for torture, I was admonished, was the most reprehensible of slippery slopes. No matter how well-intentioned was the idea, no matter the lives that might be saved, no matter how certain we might be about the guilt of the detainee, the very thought that such a thing might be legal would render us no better than the savages we were fighting.
Well, lo and behold, a court-ordered torture is set to begin in Florida on Friday at 1 P.M.
It will not produce a scintilla of socially useful information. It will not save a single innocent life. It is not narrowly targeted on a morally culpable person — the torture-victim is herself as innocent as she is defenseless. It is not, moreover, meant to be brief and non-lethal: The torture will take about two excruciating weeks, and its sole and only purpose is to kill the victim.
On Friday afternoon, unless humanity intervenes, the state of Florida is scheduled to begin its court-ordered torture-murder of Terri Schiavo, whose only crime is that she is an inconvenience. A nuisance to a faithless husband grown tired of the toll on his new love interest and depleting bank account — an account that was inflated only because a jury, in 1992, awarded him over a million dollars, mostly as a trust to pay for Terri’s continued care, in a medical malpractice verdict.
In this instance, though, deafening is the only word for the silence of my former interlocutors — -civil-liberties activists characteristically set on hysteria auto-pilot the moment an al Qaeda terrorist is rumored to have been sent to bed without supper by Don Rumsfeld or Al Gonzales (something that would, of course, be rank rumor since, if you kill or try to kill enough Americans, you can be certain our government will get you three halal squares a day).
Not so Terri Schiavo. She will be starved and dehydrated. Until she is dead. By court order.
Terri is a 40-year-old woman who suffered brain damage after a diagnosed heart attack when she was 26. In state legal proceedings dominated by macabre right-to-die activists, a judge found her to be reduced to a permanent vegetative state (PVS), drawing on examinations that appear grossly inadequate to the task of what objective specialists say is a complex diagnosis. Whether she would technically be found a PVS case by a court that was honestly interested in getting a real fix on her condition — rather than breaking new ground in just how far the Left can go in deciding whose life has value — is beside the point. She is alive and, periodically, both alert and responsive.
Her parents love her and want to care for her. Imagine if you had a child who was defenseless, dependent, and vulnerable — many of us, indeed, need not imagine — and the state told you not only to step aside but that you had to watch, helpless, while it took two weeks to kill her. That’s what’s happening in Florida. Starting Friday.
On another Friday, seven years ago, Mohammed Daoud al-`Owhali and Khalfan Khamis Mohammed blew up the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing over 240 people. They were brought to the United States for trial. They were given, at public expense, multiple, highly experienced capital lawyers, and permitted extensive audiences to plead with the Justice Department not to seek the death penalty. When a capital indictment nevertheless was filed, they were given weeks of voir dire to ensure a jury of twelve people open to the notion that even the lives of mass-murderers have value. They were then given seven months of trial and sentencing proceedings, suffuse with every legal and factual presumption that their lives had worth and should be spared. And so they were.
That’s what the law says we must do for terrorists seeking to destroy our country and to slaughter us indiscriminately.
What is the law doing for Terri Schiavo?
What kind of law is it, what kind of society is it, that says the lives of Khalfan Khamis Mohammed and Mohammed Daoud al-`Owhali’s have value — over which we must anguish and for the sustenance of which we must expend tens of thousands annually — but Terri Schiavo’s is readily dispensable? By court-ordered torture over the wrenching pleas of parents ready and willing to care for her?
What kind of society goes into a lather over the imposition of bright lights and stress positions for barbarians who might have information that will save lives, but yawns while a defenseless woman who hasn’t hurt anyone is willfully starved and dehydrated? By a court — the bulwark purportedly protecting our right to life?
The torture starts Friday, at 1 P.M. Unless we do something to stop it.