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Culture of Death Impresarios Can Get Away With Saying Anything

Posted Dec 23 2008 9:15pm
Whatever happened to fact checking in the media? I recall writing an article against Kevorkian for the New York Times more than ten years ago, and I had to prove every i-dot and t-cross to the editor--it was the editorial equivalent of a colonoscopy. (" Depressed? Don't Go See Dr. Kevorkian," September 16, 1995.) Perhaps that is because I was against the culture of death, I don't know. But I also didn't mind. I think accuracy in these debates is crucial.

I bring this up because opinion articles in favor of assisted suicide and other culture of death agendas often are allowed to assert facts that are blatantly false. Case in point, in the Telegraph, by John Zaritsky, who made the film of the man committing assisted suicide in a case of "suicide tourism" in Switzerland, the current equivalent of the Kevorkian spree. Why did he make the film? Not for fame or money--oh no: He's too much of an artiste! It was the religious right in the Schiavo case that made him do it!

The problem is, he doesn't know beans about the case, and indeed, is so ignorant what really happened that it is almost laughable. From his apologia:

I was pretty upset at the suggestion that I made the documentary for the money or to chase ratings. That is so far from the truth. Those kinds of accusations upset serious filmmakers.

I first got interested in assisted suicides three years ago, with the huge controversy over Terri Schiavo, a comatose woman whose husband was trying to take her off drugs so she could die.

It ended up with George W. Bush flying in from his ranch to sign a Bill to keep her alive. I was outraged by the attitude of the Christian Right-- there were members of Congress who were crazy enough to suggest that Terri Schiavo travel from Florida in her comatose state to testify before the House of Representatives. I wanted to do a film about dying as an antidote to what went on in that case.

What tripe: First, Terri's estranged husband (having two children by another woman constitutes estranged in my book) did not want to "take her off drugs." He wanted to remove her food and water so she would dehydrate to death.

Second: It was her family striving to keep her alive, and they sought every means possible to do so, including courts and legislation. It wasn't the "religious right" that just decided to make the case a major issue.

Third: The liberal disability rights community was virtually unanimous in supporting the bill.

Fourth: The bill to keep her alive received unanimous consent in the United States Senate, including from our president-elect Senator Barack Obama, Senator Hillary Clinton, Majority Leader Harry Reid who worked hard behind the scenes to get it passed, and Senator Tom Harkin--none of whom could be characterized as part of the "religious right." Moreover, about 40% of the House Democratic caucus voted for the bill.

Fifth: The subpoena was not issued because the Congressman thought she could testify. It was a tactic to try and stop the dehydration, the hope being she would have to receive food and fluids for the trip to DC. Misguided perhaps, but it wasn't because the politician in question thought she could testify.

Well, perhaps we shouldn't be too harsh: At least he spelled the name Schiavo right
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