In Love with Illogic
Peggy Noonan has written a truly bizarre column, which is published in today’s Opinion Journal. She argues that she can understand why devoutly religious people are so passionate in wanting to save Terri Schiavo’s life but that she can “not understand the emotionalism of the pull-the-tube people.”
[W]hy do those who argue for Mrs. Schiavo’s death employ language and imagery that is so violent and aggressive? The chairman of the Democratic National Committee calls Republicans “brain dead.” Michael Schiavo, the husband, calls House Majority Leader Tom DeLay “a slithering snake.” Everyone who has written in defense of Mrs. Schiavo’s right to live has received e-mail blasts full of attacks that appear to have been dictated by the unstable and typed by the unhinged. On Democratic Underground they crowed about having “kicked the sh– out of the fascists.” On Tuesday James Carville’s face was swept with a sneer so convulsive you could see his gums as he damned the Republicans trying to help Mrs. Schiavo. It would have seemed demonic if he weren’t a buffoon.
Why are they so committed to this woman’s death?
They seem to have fallen half in love with death.
So, those of us who believe Michael Schiavo ought to be able to carry out what he has demonstrated for over a decade to various courts are his wife’s wishes, are death-obsessed people who say mean and nasty things. Conversely, it is not at all vitriolic to say that we are “in love with death.” Priceless.
Atop this straw man, she piles on various irrelevant comparisons to those who fight to ensure due process for those on death row, those who oppose the clubbing of baby seals or prevent the extinction of whales, and the abortion fight. Even as someone who favors capital punishment and tends to weigh human economic needs over the plight of marine mammals, I should think the differences between these issues should be rather obvious:
- Those on death row are there because of the action of the state. Our system is weighted against state action in these cases. That’s why, for example, we require the state to prove its case “beyond reasonable doubt” in criminal cases but only require a “preponderance of the evidence” in civil matters.
- There is no evidence that whales and baby seals want to die.
- There is no evidence unborn infants want to die. Further, most aborted fetuses would otherwise have developed sufficient cognitive function as to be aware of their own existence.
While I risk sounding like a broken record* here, this debate would be much easier if conducted rationally. When even the likes of Peggy Noonan are resorting to name calling and obvious logical fallacies, we’re in trouble.
*We need to come up with a new simile for this concept, pronto.