The Criminal Samaritan

by Jay Johansen
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I was reading a news story about the Terri Schiavo case a few days ago. Terri Schiavo, you may recall, is a woman who was suffering from brain damage whose food and fluids were taken away at her husband's request. She finally died after two weeks of starvation.

The news story, written shortly before she died, discussed protestors outside the hospice where she was being starved, and it included this sentence: "Three protesters were arrested Wednesday, including one who was arrested when he tried to take a plastic cup of water into the hospice."

So: In America today, a person can be arrested for trying to give a cup of water to someone who is dying of hunger and thirst. I'm not talking in analogies or poetic language here. A man was literally arrested by the police and hauled off to jail for trying to give a cup of water to a woman dying of hunger and thirst.

Meanwhile, the same story talked about the terrible ordeal faced by the judge who ordered Terri Schiavo's starvation death and the members of the Florida legislature who voted in favor of killing her. In a heart-rending appeal we are told, "State Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, told 'FOX & Friends' that in a legislative session last Thursday, 'some of the female senators were crying on the floor, saying that they had been threatened with their lives because of this issue.'". Uh, they just voted to torture an innocent woman to death -- surely death by starvation is rightly called "torture" -- but they are horrified that someone would threaten them? Whatever threats have been made against the legislators are almost certainly empty gestures of anger and frustration. I haven't heard of any actual attacks on any of them. So while I certainly don't advocate or condone threatening government officials, I also don't feel a lot of sympathy for the "psychological ordeal" they suffer when friends of a person they have just sentenced to a slow and agonizing death complain or even express anger. Yes, it must be tough on those who condone torturing innocent people to death: so many rude people say nasty things about you. What bad manners! The trauma of it must just be terrible.


Source: Fox News, March 31, 2005.


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Posted 3 Apr 2005.

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