March 31, 2005

The Terry Schiavo Show

Terry Schiavo died this morning. When I was told, I felt almost nothing. Not because I'm a cynical uncaring bastard, but because this was possibly the most complex issue that the nation has dealt with in some time.

This was a personal issue between the parents and the husband, and should have been kept off the news channels. I asked a friend why this media over-saturation was necessary. "Easy money," she replied. Easy news as well. Just spout your opinions, ask others their opinions, argue about it and read the daily developments as they tick across the bottom of the screen and call it news. It has turned cable news into a 24-hour reality show for the past month.

But beyond the laziness of the mainstream media, there was a public interest in this story that was undeniable. After some thought, I think I've found out why people rallied to this issue in such numbers. The Terry Schaivo case is an issue that brought together many personal and public issues under the same roof. And perhaps for the first time, some of these issues that we felt strongly about were in direct competition with one another.

Everyone has an opinion about if they'd like to be kept alive in a coma or vegetative state. Everyone has an opinion on respecting the final wishes of a loved one. Everyone would like to get behind the heroic fight of Schaivo's parents to do everything they could to save her, even if you might not agree with their reasons. Everyone wants to think that their politicians would do all they could to save the life of one of their constituents. The draw of this issue was pitting people's closely-held beliefs and opinions against one another and seeing which would win.

You may want to heroically do everything in your power to save a loved one, but what if that's not what she wanted? You may feel strongly about democracy's ability to change the laws according to the needs of the people, but do we want politicians to defy the laws of the land, in order to benefit one person, just to satisfy the mob? (Remeber Elian Gonzales?)

I feel nothing because even though I supported Mr. Schiavo, there is no triumph in her death. I feel nothing right now because the media has wrung out every emotion that I could possibly feel about this in the past month. I feel nothing, and I'm probably not alone.

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