Fat Steve's Blatherings

Sunday, March 27, 2005

More Reynolds Dishonesty

      Glenn Reynolds, who wasn't really interested in the Schiavo case, and didn't have an opinion, continues to post long entries on it.  The entries are interesting for their use of ad hominem and dishonesty.

      For example, he recommends a Terri Schiavo FAQ from Football Fans For Truth, which he says is "no lefty front group!"

      The FFfT repeats the standard line of the "Let Her Die" folks.  Reynolds quotes this part of the FAQ:
Courts, however, rely on facts. Facts are determined by a predetermined process. In this case, the process has gone on for a very long time. Both sides have had every opportunity to have their say on several occasions. Independent factfinders and physicians have made their reports. Several courts have upheld Judge Greer's rulings, including one in which the appellate court reviewed all the evidence.

      Well, courts are certainly supposed to rely on facts, but history shows that courts sometimes err.  If you looked at the above, you'd get the idea that the courts have been working to "determine the facts" for a long time.  Actually, in our system, the trial court makes a ruling on the facts, and afterwards the appeals courts look at how the law was applied.  They do not reexamine the evidence to decide if judge's "findings of facts" are correct, just whether they're reasonable, given the evidence.

      So Greer listened to testimony from Michael Schiavo, Mike's brother, and Mike's sister-in-law, saying that Terri wanted to die if she was in this situation.  He heard testimony from others, saying Terri would not want to die.  He ruled that Terri would want to die if brain damaged.  This became a 'legal fact.'  No appeals court can challenge it.  Only Greer can change that 'fact,' by being presented with some new piece of evidence and ruling that, if he'd known that in the original trial, he'd have found differently.

      The entire 'factual' argument of the 'Kill Terri' crowd reduces to 'Trust Judge Greer.'  I don't, because of his conflicts of interest and apparent refusal to consider evidence that didn't agree with the conclusion he reached.  The fact that FFfT and Glenn Reynolds can't even be bothered to mention the issue, much less discuss it, shows a bias on their part.

      In one of the parts of the FAQ that Reynolds didn't quote [Update: I goofed; Reynolds linked to the FAQ and another post; Reynolds quoted the other post, not the FAQ], the FFfT say that Michael Schiavo didn't remove Terri's feeding tube.  Judge Greer ordered it removed.  Yes, true, because Michael brought suit seeking that outcome, and won the legal battle.  If a Mafia chieftain orders a hit, and a killer for hire pulls the trigger, the chieftain is legally and morally guilty of murder.  Michael Schiavo is responsible for Terri's death by dehydration.  It's a lie to pretend otherwise.

      But lying is a recurring theme in this dispute, so FFfT's behavior, and Reynolds's approval, are not surprising.  But I think they are disgusting.



  • Actually, the quote is not from the FAQ, but a response made to Jon Last in an entirely different post.

    But then, it's hard to expect careful reading from a guy who likens the judiciary system to made men.

    By Anonymous Cal, at 6:20 PM  

  •       OOPS, my mistake!  I really need new glasses, I guess.

          As for the substance of the comment, I stand by it.  Michael Schiavo sued to have his wife's nutrition stopped, intending and knowing that it would kill her.  Greer issued the order to remove the tube, intending and knowing it would kill her.  They share moral responsibility for her death, and it is dishonest to pretend otherwise.

          And the fact that you 'Let Her Die' people are so eager to dodge the arguments of those who disagree with you is very interesting.

          But I will give you a sincere compliment.  You signed your named to the comment, which is more courage than a some here have shown.


    By Blogger Stephen M. St. Onge, at 7:16 PM  

  • First, I'm not a "Let Her Die" person. I would hold the same position if the judge had ruled that there was insufficient evidence to remove her feeding tube.

    Second, Michael Schiavo asked the courts to decide what his wife would have wanted. He did not make the decision.

    Finally, many judges and independent investigators have reviewed or participated in Judge Greer's decision. By your standards, the entire legal system is a step down from organized crime.

    By Anonymous Cal, at 12:19 PM  

  • Cal:

          I only saw information in your FAQ that supports the "Kill Her" case (though some of your links have more).   You are quite selective in the information you present.

          For instance, Pearse (Warning, evil PDF format) said that Michael had conflicts of interest with Terri, and therefore his statements that she had indicated she'd want to die if she was in this condition were not 'clear and convincing evidence.'  Michael complained that Pearse was biased against him.  He was removed from the case.

          If you look at my other posts, you'll see links to people who dispute Michael's goodness, including nurses who cared for Terri.  Then there's a purported radiologist who says the CT scan of Terri's brain looks like that of an 80 year old woman, the kind you'd expect to be senile, but aware and functional.

          Is this true?  I do not know.  I do know that I think it ought to be checked out.

          I find it misleading on your part to write:"Michael Schiavo asked the courts to decide what his wife would have wanted. He did not make the decision."  It sounds like Michael went into court and said something like "I don't know if my wife would want to live or die. Please figure it out for me, and I'll go with whatever you say."  As noted, he testified that she wanted to die.  And the nurses I mentioned above said he frequently expressed the wish she would die, and asked if it couldn't be encouraged.

          Michael asked the court to determine that Terri would want to die in this situation, and to issue an order to kill her.  He isn't a bystander.

          You write that many people have participated in Greer's decision.  As noted, Pearse was removed when he said Michael wasn't sufficiently trustworthy.  And every court that has looked at this since Greer has followed the USAmerican legal tradition of accepting whatever 'findings of fact' the trial judge made as near-infallible truth.  Since they can't dispute those 'facts,' they can only ask whether, given those 'facts,' Greer ruled correctly.  But it's precisely Greer's 'facts' that I don't trust.

          Further, there have been some good questions raised about Greer's impartiality.  He is said to have been associated with various people on Michael's side of the case, receiving money from them for his reelection campaign.  Although I think he appointed himself Terri's guardian at one time, he never asked what she was doing in a hospice.  They're supposed to be for people who are terminal.  Terri was never diagnosed as terminal that I am aware of.

          I don't know where you're from, or your age, but I'm a Northerner, and old enough to remember when southern courts were renowned for corruption and unfairness.  That makes it easy for me to suspect Greer might not be a paragon of virtue.

          And even assuming Greer's integrity, much of the 'evidence' doesn't look like much when I consider the context.  Terri supposedly told Michael and his brother and his brother's wife that she didn't want to be on life support.  But who considered a feeding tube 'life support' when she supposedly made those statements?  The State of Florida defined feeding tubes as life support in 1999.  It's possible she did say what Michael said she did, but only meant that she wouldn't want to be hooked to a ventilator for years.

          The Florida Legislature passed the law that let Greer issue the order that is killing Terri Schiavo, and you support that as law, which the courts are properly following.  OK, no problem there.  But the Florida Legislature also passed a law that said that Gov. Bush could intervene and keep her alive.  The Florida courts defied that second law, and also subpeonas issued by a Congressional Committee.  I haven't seen any of you 'rule of law' people upset about that, though.

    I could raise other issues, but this is already too long. Suffice it to say that from the begining, my position has been that there are grave uncertainties in this case. Before we killed Terri Schiavo, using a means that would be labeled 'cruel' if applied to a mean dog or a serial killer, we ought to try to resolve those issues -- by having new doctors do PET scans, CT scans, EEGs, and other tests; by carefully examining the medical records with a skeptical eye; by having court proceedings in which Terri has her own attorney, tasked solely with seeing to her interests; and by considering what harm would be done by letting her live. If she is a 'veggie,' as we used to call them when I worked in hospitals, she isn't suffering. If she has awareness . . . well, that's fairly awful to contemplate.


    By Blogger Stephen M. St. Onge, at 1:58 PM  

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