Monday, March 28, 2005

Q: Why study history?

A: To avoid national distraction.

It's hard not to notice all of the attention given to the Terri Schiavo news item. Two weeks ago I as completely unaware of the woman's plight, which I find interesting in that Ms. Schiavo has been in a coma since 1990. From where I sit the situation must be a nightmare for anyone who has a legitimate, personal connection to the woman and her unfortunate circumstances. That a familial struggle (whether to remove life support or continue her life in the present state) has become grist for the media and political mills only adds to the tragedy.

The publicity generated by the news items is so significant that the legal suit associated with the situation almost was tried before the Supreme Court. The Court refused to hear the case.

Again, the Schiavo family's plight is tragic. Yet, to bring the case to the Supreme Court would have given the situation historic prominence. Supreme Court cases affect the nation today and for generations to come. The Dred Scott case helped bring about the Civil War. Brown vs the Board of Education outlawed de facto segregation and Roe vs. Wade, while legalizing abortion, put the present battle over a woman's right to autonomy over her body against the right to life of the unborn into play.

Does the Schiavo case warrant the legal prominence of Dred Scott, Brown vs the Board of Education or Roe vs. Wade?

I cannot help but wonder why the Schiavo case, as tragic as it is, should enrapture the nation's attention so completely. With all of the tragedy out there on the news landscape, why this news item and why now? Why has a legal situation that is more appropriate to be considered as a familial dispute been given such national importance?

I have a theory that a human being can think of only one thing at one time. If the collective national consciousness is thinking of the Schiavo case, what isn't it thinking about?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all of the tragedy out there on the news landscape, why this news item and why now?

Might it be possible that one of the reasons bush interupted his vacation to come to her aid was to detour the media from the continuing tragedy in Iraq and the negative press about his efforts to reform social security?

1:20 PM  

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