Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Jim Babka, the host of the radio show I was on a few days ago, has posted a report to his blog on how the show went. It seems he thought it went pretty much the way I thought it went:

Brayton, who argued that the outcome of Terri’s case was correct, was well-prepared and forensically strong. I think Mr. Klayman, who was primarily upset with Jeb Bush’s failure to intervene and rescue Terri, is used to shorter interviews because after his four or five-bullet point initial statement he crumbled into almost entirely ad hominem arguments. He called one set of judges morons, his opposing guest an idiot (but then quickly corrected himself, and said he meant to say his ideas were idiocy), and so on. The most interesting moment in the show is when the conservative Republican lawyer said, “I don’t care what Justice Scalia thinks, he’s an intellectual lightweight…one of my least favorite Justices.”

Most of the show focused on the role of the Courts. Klayman tried to dodge a question about state sovereignty and federalism, but ultimately conceded that he has little regard for such things when he insisted on the justification that, “Congress does stuff all the time.”

Brayton handled my two toughest questions for him, but I wasn’t finished with him. There were several things I wanted to ask. He was so confident and forceful he managed to keep Klayman on the defensive the whole time, and I didn’t have enough time to ask him the remaining questions I have…

You can read Ed Brayton’s opinion of how he thought the show went here. If Larry Klayman ever writes about it, and I find out, I’ll link to that as well. But I’m guessing Larry would prefer to forget.

Ouch. Jim did have one question in his post for me that he didn’t get to ask me on the air, and I want to address it here because I think it’s a good question. He writes:

I still believe starving Terri was nothing short of barbaric. And I would’ve loved to ask Ed if Michael Schiavo’s attorney is mentally ill? After all, he looked at Terri and said she was “peaceful” (a potential statement of fact) and “beautiful.”

Beautiful? Someone is starving, their eyes are dark and sunken, their lips are bleeding, and their skin is flaking from dehydration, and you say they look “beautiful?” Sounds to me like Felos is disgustingly infatuated with death.

First, let me say that I think it’s absurd that the only legal option is withdrawal of nourishment. The medical evidence may be clear that Terri didn’t feel anything during the 13 days she was dehydrating, but it’s still absurd to drag the whole process on that long. We wouldn’t do that to a dog. The problem is that the same people who were screaming about how barbaric that was would scream even louder if we passed a law allowing active euthenasia, where doctors would administer a lethal dosage in such situations to bring death quickly and painlessly. But that is precisely what we need to allow in such cases.

As far as Mr. Felos is concerned, I had the same reaction Jim did when I saw those comments. I found them downright creepy. And I found them just as delusional and insincere as the comments from the Schindlers that Terri was “crying out to them” and “saying she wants to live.” The whole scene at the hospice was creepy to me, from the self-serving media whores like Randall Terry and Jesse Jackson (and yes, Larry Klayman) doing their schtick to the people in the background who would talk on their cell phones and wave excitedly at the TV cameras (that’s the way to reinforce the solemn nature of what was going on, eh?) to the family’s monk/spokesman who came out at least twice to announce that the family would no longer be talking to the press because they wanted to grieve privately the way families should, only to have those family members booked on every TV show in existence for 3 days after that declaration, to the people sending their kids in to get arrested to make some sort of weird statement. It was a circus we should all be glad has ended.

P.S. I’m not posting this to brag; I’m posting it just in case some other host or producer out there might be reading and be interested in inviting me on their show. I’ve long subscribed to HL Mencken’s description of a writer as “a man in whom the normal vanity of all men is so vastly exaggerated that he finds it a sheer impossibility to hold it in. His overpowering impulse is to gyrate before his fellow men , flapping his wings and emitting defiant yells. This being forbidden by the police of all civilized countries, he takes it out by putting his yells on paper. Such is the thing called self-expression.” There’s no point in pretending otherwise, or in confining one’s yelling and flapping to print.


  1. #1 Jim Anderson
    April 6, 2005

    Take a gander at Felos’s book. (Interestingly, Amazon has removed some of the reviews citing passages that showed Felos’s New Age “soul speak” claptrap.)

  2. #2 Mark Paris
    April 6, 2005

    One wonders how many medical acts of humane euthanasia take place quietly in hospitals around the country, far from the intense scrutiny this case garnered.

  3. #3 Ed Brayton
    April 6, 2005

    One wonders how many medical acts of humane euthanasia take place quietly in hospitals around the country, far from the intense scrutiny this case garnered.

    Honestly, it happens all the time. I’ve been personally involved with three such cases, and know of many more. With my own mother, when we made the decision to turn off the machines, the doctors had given her enough morphine to insure that her body would not thrash around or convulse, so that she expired quickly and quietly. They didn’t come out and say that, of course, but we knew. And thank goodness they did. In hospices and hospitals around the country, morphine is often used to hasten the shutting down of the organs in cases where death is imminent but may stretch out for long periods of time. It’s justified on the basis of pain, and rightfully so, but it does more than that. And this is a good thing, not a bad thing.

  4. #4 Ed Darrell
    April 6, 2005

    Of course, had there been that much morphine delivered to Ms. Shiavo, it would have leaked to the right wingers, I’m sure.

    And, didn’t someone tell me that the Florida legislature, in its thrash of wisdom, has passed a law that limits the use of morphine in such cases? Can’t let terminal patients get enough to get addicted (or am I confusing Florida with New York?).

  5. #5 Ron Sullivan
    April 7, 2005

    Morphine to a dying person isn’t just about pain relief. It’s not a polite fiction to say that it relieves some breathing difficulties that can happen in the days before death — I’ve seen it do so. I’m not talking about depressed respiration with high doses, but easy and more effective respiration, with visible reduction in circumoral cyanosis and intercostal pulling and general signs of both stress and hypoxia.

    Breathing difficulties, like those in severe asthma, lung cancer, emphysema, and so on, are accompanied by what I can only call physiologic fear. The worst, most frightened deaths I’ve seen were from lung cancer, for example, and that’s partly because there’s a physical fear reaction to being badly short of breath. It has nothing to do with courage or lack of it; it’s as physical as turning blue. Denying a dying person relief of that is barbaric.

  6. #6 raj
    April 7, 2005

    This is absurd. (Sorry, Ed, I’m not referring to the report).

    Let’s get something straight. What does the issue regarding “euthanasia-inducing” drugs have to do with?

    Let’s get something perfectly and totally straight. The issue is the fact that the doctor-priesthood controls access to these “euthenasia inducing” drugs. So an individual can’t get access to them on his or her own.

    That’s the whole point of “doctor-assisted suicide.” If the access to suicide-inducing drugs was not limited to doctors, via “prescriptions,” there would be no issue regarding “doctor assisted suicide” would there be? Of course not.

  7. #7 raj
    April 8, 2005

    Just wondering, is “Babka” a stage name? It sounds like a Polish pastry. BTW, I’m not kidding, I’m just wondering.

  8. #8 Dave S.
    April 8, 2005

    Just wondering, is “Babka” a stage name? It sounds like a Polish pastry. BTW, I’m not kidding, I’m just wondering.

    Yeah, me too.

    It’s like that episode of Seinfeld where they wanted to buy the chocolate babka as dessert for a dinner party, but the bakery was out and they has to settle for the lesser cinnamon babka instead. Sure enough, another couple going to the same dinner party had bought the last chocolate babka and of course much mirth ensued.

    I laughed till I stopped.

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