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Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Progress and Starvation

I forward this short essay by Andrew McCarthy at NRO without further comment and in its enitrety (...your trusty Monk says as he sips his latest dose of caffeine, takes an acid reducer to overcome eating too much at breakfast, and waits for a cold remedy to take away his stuffy head...)


AS WE PASS 100 HOURS OF STARVATION AND DEHYDRATION ... it is worth remembering that the excruciating slowness of the execution here, the incremental-ness of death, is designed by its champions to inure us to it. After the first hour, the second passes with far less fanfare, and the third less still. I've been following this closely, and I needed to remind myself today how many hours Terri Schiavo has actually been without sustenance by counting the days since Friday afternoon and multiplying by 24. How much more easily the time passes, and the world around us changes, for those following only fleetingly, or not at all.

Why should we think this is intentional? Consider, say, a month ago, before Terri's plight took center stage, if you had asked someone in the abstract: "How would you feel about starving and dehydrating a defenseless, brain-damaged woman?" The answer is easy to imagine: "Outrageous, atrocious -- something that wouldn't be done to an animal and couldn't be done to the worst convicted murderer."

But then it actually happens ... slowly. You're powerless to stop it, and ... you find your life goes on. There are kids and jobs and triumphs and tragedies and everyday just-getting-by. An atrocity becomes yet another awful thing going on in the world. After a day, or maybe two, of initial flabbergast, we're talking again about social security reform, China, North Korea, Hezbollah, etc. A woman's snail-like, gradual torture goes from savagery to just one of those sad facts of life. As is the case with other depravities once believed unthinkable, it coarsens us. We slowly, and however reluctantly, accept it. We accept it. The New York Times no doubt soon "progresses" from something like "terminating life by starvation," to "the dignity of death by starvation," to "the medical procedure that opponents refer to as starvation." And so the culture of life slides a little more. The culture of death gains a firmer foothold.

Of course, the physical needs of the body are not limited to food and water. There is also air. But no judge, even in Florida, would ever have had the nerve in Terri's case to permit "the medical procedure that opponents refer to as asphyxiation." Too crude. Too quick. Too obviously murder of a vulnerable innocent. Brazen, instant savagery might wake us from our slumber. For the culture of death, better that we sleep.

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