Friday, April 01, 2005

Opportunities Lost

Has anyone else noticed that – amidst all the recent media discussion of the Schiavo case – barely anyone has brought up the issue of euthanasia? Had a quick and painless death through euthanasia been available, her doctors and husband would have had an option beyond those, I would argue inhumane, options at their disposal, i.e., allowing her to live in a ‘vegetative’ state and suffering a slow and painful death. Why hasn’t this case resurrected this particular debate in the mainstream media? The answer is probably pretty obvious, but I still think it’s worth politicizing 'obvious' problems.

I also noticed that another aspect of this case was poorly problematized in the media coverage, namely the events that lead to her condition. How many of you know that the low potassium levels Terri suffered -- which caused her heart to stop and ultimately culminated in her brain damage – were likely caused by her long struggle with bulimia? Wouldn’t this have been a wonderful opportunity to educate the public about the possible consequences of starving your body (I’m not horribly cruel, so I’ll avoid making explicit the obvious irony here)? How many people watch these news stories? And how many of those suffer from eating disorders? And, of these, how many would have sought treatment after seeing image after horrifying image of Terri visually juxtaposed to images of her before this all happened? Obviously, the media (bosses, or whatever) wanted to portray her as an innocent victim. Which, I think she was – at the very least a ‘victim’ of our cultural obsession with weight. And sure, I buy the argument that eating disorders are often about the ‘need to have control’ as they like to say. But, in our society this increasing need to have control (which can be argued is a result of living in an alienating, highly individualist and competitive society such as ours) happens to manifest itself in practices that result in body disfigurement … which brings us back to the cultural obsession with weight, which is drilled into our brains every time we do any TV or web surfing …

26 Comments:

At 3:33 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Yay! Anne's on Prairie!

You raise some important issues. Like euthanasia. Amidst all the talk of religion and "prolifers" you would think it would have come up as a serious part of the discourse. One of the things that bothers me about "prolife" discourse, is that many are only prolife is certain circumstances, like keeping someone alive in a vegetative state, or not allowing a woman to end a pregnancy.

When it comes to war most are pro war (which by definition leads to death) and prodeath penality (same thing). Hmmm...where's religion now? Rather, it's religio-politics, meaning conservative ideology justified by religion. If I was religious, like I used to be when I was younger, then I would be mad at the evangelicals and conservative religious people for their selective looks at life and dragging my religion into it. But I'm not, so I just think it's sad and angering how religio-politics is being used for control, at Schiavo's expense.

Right also, on issue of eating disorder and the irony of her ultimate demise. So tragic. The media circus wanted ratings, not issues.

An aside, I have heard some doctors on TV say that she shouldn't have experienced any pain, as far as we understand pain because she was so brain damaged. I'm no neurologist, but I didn't hear any other doctors disputing that claim.

 
At 7:50 PM, Blogger Yakima_Gulag said...

Yaaaay to Prairie Sociology!*!*!
I am so tired of all the people who exploited terrible private tragedy for political ends. There have been so many allegations in this case that I don't know what was the truth in this matter. I doubt anyone else knows what's true anymore, not the doctors, not the judges adn not the family. They are all too involved with emotions to be objective.
I know one thing too, the judge was sick of seeing this case. I noted that this judge, a Bush appointee really jumped all over Congress and the President over this business.
Domestic violence has also been raised a possible cause of this situration too. I've read and heard on the radio allegations about the condition of her bones. I have been subjected several times on radio to recordings of when she has moaned too, and this moaning was described as attempts at speech. Sorry it didn't sound like that to me. I'm sick of the whole sorry mess.
I feel sorry for her, I feel sorry for her family both parents and husband, but I'm really very angry with them too for not resolveing their problem in a more dignified and PRIVATE manner. It was all like one of those horrible custody battles people get into, where what happens to the kids has bugger all to do with what is good for the kids or with love for those kids, but is much more about control issues between a soon to be ex-husband and ex-wife, or the testosterone level of their lawyers, or the stupidness of judges.
I think an issue left out of this is judges are NOT accountable. They are as free from accountability as God Himself.
No new judge could take a new look at any of the information and see if a new decision was appropriate.
Another thing left out is that actually the Catholic position is NOT necessarily put in a tube and keep it until someone rots before your very eyes as they breath.There is a point to accept God's Will and the human condition. There is such a thing as admitting that someone is dying.

There are people who got lots of e-mails to send money to the Schiavo family. I know this from a friend who got over 400 such e-mails.
Enough already!

 
At 8:08 PM, Blogger Carolyn said...

Thanks Anne for posting on this. I had a similar reaction about the media's lack of coverage about how Terri Schiavo ended up brain dead. It was definitely a lost opportunity to discuss eating disorders. Where was the media when this woman needed treatment for her eating disorder to keep her out of a vegetative state in the first place?

Sort of on topic: Last night I was watching South Park (I'm at a conference, it was late, I was tired...) and they tackled this issue. The episode was rather well done. Kenny gets killed, and is being kept alive with a feeding tube after being put in a vegetative state. One point the writers brought up was whether or not Kenny had any say on being all over TV. They also say its God's plan for Kenny to die (in the episode heaven needs Kenny to die to defeat Satan in a war in heaven). Finally, they ask who had a say in whether or not Kenny should be kept alive (his parents, or his BFF Cartman (Schiavo's husband). In the end, the tube is removed, Kenny dies, saves heaven, and all is right in the world. Pretty heavy for Comedy Central. I'm sending a shout out to Trey Parker and Matt Stone on this one!

 
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