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March 31, 2005

Terri Schiavo — A Postscript

Because of the difference between blog time and real time, I felt it worth stating that my last post was delivered before hearing that Terri Schiavo had passed away.  Given the news, I have regrets about my timing and perhaps some misgivings about the tone.  The comments, of course, I stand behind. 

As a “house rule,” I avoid any blog entry (except for an infrequent announcement) that is not accompanied by an image, and some analysis of that image.  In this instance, though, I think it’s worth the exception. 

I have two thoughts to offer. 

One qualm I had about the last post involved the use of the image of Christine Busalacchi.  In weighing it out, it involved balancing respect for her family and memory with the power of the TIME cover to shed greater insight (and thus, greater humanity) on the Schiavo case.  Of course, I understand there is a fine line in circulating an image that could reopen old wounds. Obviously, it’s also tricky using the one image in an argument about the exploitive use of Terri Schaivo’s image.  Reflecting on how much the photo had to contribute, however (combined with how seriously I take these matters), I felt that the photo was still important to display. 

My other thought involves the passing of Terri Schiavo.  In putting this post together, I considered using a very reduced photo of someone holding a sign simply with Terri’s name on it.  Playing it out in the mind’s eye, though, it didn’t seem right.  It didn’t because of the way Terri’s image has primarily served as ammunition in what is (and, will likely remain) a family war and a culture war.

To the extent the TIME cover helps us appreciate how easily and often emotional images are exploited for political gain, I think it only lends more respect to both women. 

  • Johanna

    Thank you Bag – for both commentaries.
    “…I didn’t because of the way Terri’s image has primarily served as ammunition in what is (and, will likely remain) a family war and a culture war.
    To the extent the TIME cover helps us appreciate how easily and often emotional images are exploited for political gain…”

    I carried around in my consciousness, the Time cover picture of Christine Busalacchi and her father for some time today. At certain points I would find myself comparing it to the video footage of Mrs. Schindler with her daughter Terri.
    From the beginning I have been troubled by the video footage shown by the media via Schindler family. I watched as Terri’s mother tussled her hair, made hand movements, kissed her and talked with her and I found myself reacting with a sense of feeling “creeped out”. I asked myself why I would have such a negative reaction and found that the thought/feeling that came to me intuitively was “suffocation by love”. A love it seems to me, that is unable (I observe and say this without judgment) to “be” with the one who is suffering.
    With this in my heart, I then found myself revisiting the Time cover of Christine Busalacchi and her father. The difference between the two is startling. The picture in itself seems to me to be “raw”. Her fathers pain is raw, his suffering is evident and real – and so is Christine’s (even if she is not consciously aware of it, I feel her body is). There he is, her father, sitting there “with her”, his suffering child, powerless over her suffering, powerless over his own suffering and yet, he keeps his vigil “with her”.

  • Joyce

    What I resent is the President’s comments re preserving the “culture of life” implying that those who disagreed
    with the (obscene) attempts of the parents are for a
    “culture of death.” Death is a primary fact of life, and what gives life its quickened and extraordinary meaning.
    Terri Shaivo’s self died years ago and what was
    sustained was a physical self without consciousness
    and it is consciousness that constitutes life. The media have almost ignored the ghoulish aspects of clinging to an unresponsive body, or one with involuntary responses, interpreted by her parents through a screen of ideology to have interpersonal meaning. Perhaps that image or idea – of clinging to the dead for years, more than the customary hours or few days before burial – is for most of us, just too painful to bear.
    My father died, his self left while I was with him. My stepmother insisted on artificial life support continued..
    It went on for many weeks before his physical self could resist the machines and be able to go. I found it a situation that was futile, outrageous and without dignity.

  • aethorian

    A very respectful comment, BAG, and Johanna’s is especially poignant:

    There he is, her father, sitting there “with her”, his suffering child, powerless over her suffering, powerless over his own suffering and yet, he keeps his vigil “with her”.

    93 years ago this week, on March 29, 1912, the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott died of exposure, exhaustion, and hunger in an Antarctic blizzard after failing to beat Roald Amundsen to the South Pole. His defeated expedition’s attempted return to home base was 800 miles, all of it on foot, without any contact with the outside world. No one survived.
    Scott, after eight days in a small windblown tent (and watching his two remaining companions die), wrote this final entry in his diary:

    Since the 21st we have had a continuous gale WSW and SW. We had fuel to make two cups of tea apiece and bare food for two days on the 20th. Every day we have been ready to start for our depot 11 miles away, but outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift. I do not think we can hope for any better things now. We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far.
    It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more.
    R. Scott
    Last entry.
    For God’s sake look after our people.

    In the end, can we do any more?

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    A culture of life is one that accepts that death is a part of life, that to deny the reality of death is to deny that life itself has any real meaning. We are part of a changing world, not a timeless heaven that exists forever. No matter what they may think comes after this life, if anything, it is an ephemeral existence and we are all merely mortal.
    But perhaps that is what really scares them, after all. That for all the power they profess to have, they will meet the same end as any of us.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/SherlockRWBshoes/ SherlockRWBShoes

    You know I came across this blog but accident and I find the words you wrote here appalling. Michael Schiavo is the only one that was with Terri the night she fell and the autospy ruled out his phony story that she was bulemic. The Medical Exaimer has no explanation for her fall that night, no heart attack, nothing. Could it be that her best friend and brother were telling the truth when they told the Judge that Terri wanted a divorce from her controlling cheating husband? Is it possible that he flipped out that night and tried to kill her? Listen to yourselves, you support him in his quest to dehydrate his wife to death, when he was living with another woman and had two children with her. You are sick, and it appalls me that you live in the same world that I do. Read this if you can. There is an investigation right now on the case and on Michael Schiavo, hopefully those that forced this to happen will pay the penalty.
    COUNTDOWN TO ‘TERRI’S STORY’
    Media ‘malpractice’ exposed in Schiavo coverage
    New book reveals unreported, under-reported, misreported facts of case
    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=46725

  • SherlockRWBShoes

    culture of life is one that accepts that death is a part of life, that to deny the reality of death is to deny that life itself has any real meaning. We are part of a changing world, not a timeless heaven that exists forever. No matter what they may think comes after this life, if anything, it is an ephemeral existence and we are all merely mortal.
    But perhaps that is what really scares them, after all. That for all the power they profess to have, they will meet the same end as any of us.
    Posted by: donna | Mar 31, 2005 at 10:07 PM
    You sound like you are on acid or something. Whom is “They”?? All Terri needed was food and water to live, just like YOU. Are you ready to die? No, yes, if not, why not? Good enough for Terri, why not YOU?
    Damn, this blog is full of crazies!

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