Saturday, 26 March 2005

Disliking both sides of an argument

For most of the Terri Schiavo controversy, I’ve sided with the Schindlers. The ideal outcome, given that the daughter had the medical problems to begin with, would have been to let the parents take custody of her and have Michael Schiavo divorce her and move on. The time for that has passed, though.

When the week started, I was a little concerned that opponents of Congress’s move to allow federal jurisdiction would claim that it was unconstitutional, when the Constitution allows Congress to set the jurisdiction of cases. As a matter of custom we usually don’t allow this, but it’s unclear that it’s unconstitutional. It appeared to me that the opponents of the move were themselves being selective—and dishonest—in claiming that it’s unconstitutional.

Now it seems that the Schindlers have gone overboard. They’re obviously interested in seeing their daughter, but they’ve shown themselves to be too hysterical for anyone to accept their judgment. They made political threats against the Republicans in Congress and against Jeb Bush; one of their “expert” doctors is a quack; and, they’re making unverifiable claims that their daughter tried to speak before the tube was removed. Clearly they can’t be trusted on future decisions about the matter. To make things even worse, they’ve brought Randall Terry into the mix, which is never a good sign.

I started the week off thinking that Congress and the President did a good thing by allowing the federal courts to have a look at this. In the mean time it has become clear that the other supporters of that decision won’t be happy until they get the right outcome, regardless of what the law says. Every time a decision that goes against them is made, they move the goalposts and no-one will be spared from their wrath. I hope the Republicans (and I, also) never fall for an attempt to pander to hysterics again.

For more of their misadventures, see the attacks on Donald Sensing, here and here.