Exploiting Terri Schiavo

The International Herald Tribune has an editorial, dated tomorrow, entitled, “Exploiting Terri Schiavo.” It expands on the rule of law argument that I touched on earlier:

The founders of the United States believed in a nation in which, as Justice Robert Jackson once wrote, we would “submit ourselves to rulers only if under rules.” There is no place in such a system for a special law creating rights for only one family. The White House insists that the law will not be a precedent. But that means that the right to bring such claims in federal court is reserved for people with enough political pull to get a law passed that names them in the text.

Republicans have traditionally championed respect for the delicate balance the founders created. But in the Schiavo case, and in the battle to stop the Democratic filibusters of judicial nominations, Bush and his congressional allies have begun to enunciate a new principle: The rules of government are worth respecting only if they produce the result we want. It may be a formula for short-term political success, but it is no way to preserve and protect a great republic.

Quite so.

Update (1352): Bryan at AWS wonders whether bloggers and mass media types aren’t “exploiting” Terri Schiavo, too, since the topic is one that is sure to garner site visits/viewership/readers.

Not anymore than we “exploit” the war, public fear of terrorism, Hillary Clinton’s polarizing effect, or the “blogs vs. MSM” meme. Bloggers and other media types cover stories that they find interesting and/or they believe their audience will find interesting. We’re covering Terri Schiavo because it’s the hot story right now and raises interesting questions. Next week–or ten minutes from now, depending on events–it’ll be something else.

FILED UNDER: Terrorism, Uncategorized, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Leticia Rodriguez says:

    It is a crime for Judge Whittemore not to allow the feeding tube to be reinstated for Terry Schiavo.
    None of the 19 judges have ever visited Terry Schiavo personally. Aren’t these judges concerned as to why Micahel Shciavo wants her to die?
    There is no written evidence of what Terri wants, only the husband’s word.
    I bet the results would be different if Terri was a male and his wife was in Michael’s place.

    I can see that these judges give more care to hard core criminals than law abbiding handicapped individuals.

  2. bryan says:

    I find the inclusion of the attempts to kill the filibuster somewhat daft, given that the filibuster is something that thwarts the democratic process, and is subject to change (as it was in 1976).

  3. snep ross says:

    How dare Judge James Whittemore make this horrible decision! Teri is a human-not a animal or a criminal!!! The Death row crimimals are treated better-no wonder they call the Judges criminals themselves for they are so narrow minded!!! Teri is a disabled person- we would go to jail if we shoot a dog because it is in misery but it is alright for us to slowly torture a woman that never had done anything wrong???? What is wrong with this picture????? The husband just wants Teri to die so he can marry his girlfriend, The husband should just leave this alone for Terri’s parents will care for her!!( he is a cruel man -so he makes men look like crap!!) It is horrible for a parent to watch their son- in law to make this decision for Terri- it is like watching your child dying and have no control over it!!!

  4. James Joyner says:

    Bryan-I have trouble with that argument as well. George Will and other conservative lumanaries adopt the same position, though.

  5. bryan says:

    Bloggers and other media types cover stories that they find interesting and/or they believe their audience will find interesting. We’re covering Terri Schiavo because it’s the hot story right now and raises interesting questions.

    And that is different from what people accuse congress of doing in what way?

    Seriously. I teach and study journalism for a living. I know *why* we are writing about the case. But the herd mentality makes it no less of an exploitation of the family’s (michael and terri’s parents) personal battles.

    And I’m not saying that *every* blog that is writing about this is just surfing the wave of what’s hot. But just like there are people who are willing to link to hottie names like lindsey lohan or cameron diaz or whoever the latest is, there are most likely people who are doing the same with Terri Schiavo.

    Call it PVS p0rn, if you like.

  6. James Joyner says:

    I don’t deny that there is a personal impact of the coverage; in that sense, I suppose it’s exploitative.

    The IHT piece though, at least the part I excerpt, is talking about the rule of law aspect of the issue. Grandstanding on an issue that normally has nothing to do with Congress is a different thing than exploring an issue that the public is interested in.

  7. Jeff Baker says:

    (First guy) [ignorance, flaming]
    (Second guy) [flaming, ignorance, nonsense]
    (Third guy) [flaming, nonsense]

    Hey, keep it up, citizens of Jesusland! It’s better to out yourselves as unthinking dumbasses now, so we can better prepare for dealing with you later.

  8. Michael says:

    Everything I write, I write because I think people might be interested in it. And I also hope increases my traffic. No sense writing if no one’s reading.

    What’s wrong with that?

  9. bryan says:

    No sense writing if no one’s reading.

    For you, perhaps. But I’d suggest that a vast majority of the millions of bloggers do it for the same reason people paint paintings when they know no one will see them, or write poetry, when they know they’ll never publish.

    The joy is in the doing, not the reaction.

  10. Zina Martin says:

    It is time for Terri to go to a better place. She is a burden and I am sure she would not want to live this way. In her pictures before the medical problems she took pride in her appearence and now she looks awful. Most people would not want to live this way.

  11. S. D. Moore says:

    A Time for Enlightenment

    Enlightenment unto them, whose love of vanity has condemned an innocent lamb to death…either by deed, denial, dismissal, or distaste. Many said with revulsion, “Look at her!” Don’t they know that we are all beautiful in the eyes of the Creator? Did they not see the beauty of life heave as breath in the innocent lamb’s body? Did they not know that a heart beat there? Did they not feel the pain of her mother Mary as she cried “Mercy,” but she was barred from soothing the lips of her thirsty child with but a tear of water for comfort?

    Search your hearts to answer how a being that was described as incapable of feeling pain is given morphine to deaden the pain as her body dies? What is this passionate, compassionless, compassion I’ve seen? A soul has to wonder, but a soul already knows.

    At this Passover season and beyond, when the one called the “Holy Father,” and the Son of the king, and the Spirit of Mary’s first born child prepare to receive their blessings…let ALL introspect to discern which path they truly travel. Let your enlightenment be quick, for time is fluid. It may not support the length of your journey.

    May the spirit of peace guide you.

    Live life with no regrets,