Here is a typically emotionalistic email I received in response to my post about Terri Schiavo—and my reply:
Who do you think you are? Who gives you the right to judge whether someone should die or not? Because her husband has said she would wanted it, the husband that has been with two other women since Terri’s injury and spent the money for Terri’s therapy on his lawyers? Or because what you think you would want for yourself? There is no written word from Terri. May be she would not like this and maybe she would. Maybe.... If you are so smart why don’ t you just go ahead and kill all mentally disabled people many of whom are like Terri and do not have ,like you say, their minds. They are dead according to you! It looks like you should be able to kill them freely in the US these days. Oh, I forgot they can swallow! So, only the people who are mentaly disabled but can swallow and people who are mentally healthy and can not swallow have right to live. All other combinations don’t? All mentally retarded people would prefer not live as mentally retarded if they had that choice and nobody kills them because of that! If you think you can do whatever you want with your own life and body it is your problem but do not mess up with other people’s lives. I perceive my daughter as a part of my own body and blood, I am the one who has given her life and will never let someone else take it away from her!!!!!! Never!!!! I have created her and have always represented her best interest!! Scott Peterson was also a husband.....
As they say, sic. I wrote back:
Your email is irrational and overly emotional. I am not judging whether someone should die or not. The Florida Courts have determined that Mrs. Schiavo herself decided that she should die under these circumstances. I suspect that you cannot produce evidence to the contrary. The most reliable witness to her decision was her husband, who has traditionally and legally been entrusted with the authority to make these decisions. The fact that Mr. Schiavo has, in the fifteen intervening years, had other relationships hardly makes him a faithless husband or an unreliable witness as to Mrs. Schiavo’s desires.
Your statement “If you are so smart why don’ t you just go ahead and kill all mentally disabled people many of whom are like Terri and do not have ,like you say, their minds,” is not only poorly typed, but hysterical and unreasonable. Mentally disabled people do have minds. Nor do I see why my being “smart” or not has anything to do with the matter. The rest of your statement on this matter is similarly incomprehensible.
Curiously, you say that I can “do whatever you want with your own life,” but that I should “not mess up with other people’s lives [sic].” But I am not proposing to do anything with Mrs. Schiavo’s life. It is, rather, Mrs. Schiavo’s parents who want to intervene and control her destiny. She chose that her destiny would be to die if circumstances like this ever arose: that fact has been ascertained through the legitimate legal process, and no judge, not even the dissenting judge at the 11th Circuit, has suggested that there are any grounds for believing otherwise. Given that fact, it is respecting her rights to allow her to die in accordance with her wishes. Mrs. Schiavo’s parents, and those who support them, want to “mess up with” her life, by making the decision to deprive her of her right to make choices regarding her own destiny.
Growing ever more hysterical, you write “I perceive my daughter as a part of my own body and blood, I am the one who has given her life and will never let someone else take it away from her!!!!!!” But the fact is that children grow up, and attain the right to control their own lives and make decisions regarding their own bodies, regardless of the “perceptions” of their parents. Having grown up and married, they make the choice to leave the authority of their parents and make their own choices in conjunction with their spouses. Mrs. Schiavo passed that milestone. Although her parents may have the same excessively emotionalistic reaction that you do, that does not mean that she is “part of [their] body and blood.” She is not. She is her own person, with the right to make decisions for herself. She made those decisions, and they ought to be respected, regardless of who “created her.”
It is unfortunate that so many people such as yourself refuse to consider these issues rationally. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defense.”