Regarding the March 21 article "Why Schiavo is a cause célèbre": I find it very hard to understand how a group of individuals who fight so valiantly for the "culture of life" don't find a similar place in their heart for getting rid of the death penalty.
How can one weigh either on a scale without using the same metric? Life is either precious or it isn't.
While I empathize with the very public grief of Terri Schiavo's parents, they are making the issue about themselves with that grief ("Please, please, help us save our daughter!") and not about Terri and her wishes. When will they, and our culture, begin to respect the personal decisions of people like Terri, who, when she was a rational and vibrant individual, made her wishes clear?
The article does a grave injustice to some 26 disability-rights organizations that have taken positions supporting the continued sustenance of Terri Schiavo. Guardianship issues are, by their very nature, disability issues. This seems to be something the media, bioethicists, and others feel free to ignore.
It's probably no coincidence that the article omitted Sen. Tom Harkin's support of the Terri Schiavo bill and his call for a broader bill that would provide a new layer of legal protection for people under guardianship. In a press conference on the issue, Senator Harkin (D) of Iowa spoke passionately of his many years as an advocate for disability rights. He sees this as a disability issue - that's why he is working for bipartisan support of this bill and a broader one in the future.
As a longtime activist for disability rights, I get very tired of seeing our community being treated as if we don't exist - even when the issue at hand is about us.
Framing the Schiavo case as just another aspect of the "culture war" makes for a nice, familiar, and comfortable story. The only trouble is, it isn't accurate.
Forest Park, Ill.
Regarding the March 16 article "Out of violent rampage, a parable of faith and calm": I think Ashley Smith was just the right person at just the right time to be an instrument of God in bringing Brian Nichols to reason. At the same time, it probably brought her some closure to her own problems that she has had a difficult time coming to terms with.
God works miracles through the lives and faith of others.
Salt Lake City
The March 16 article "Gay marriage ruling galvanizes both sides" hit the spot. Yes, this issue has polarized the branches of government. Elected officials tend to reflect the values of the larger society. On the other hand, the courts tend to patronize the people. They demonstrate a "father knows best" attitude.
The legislatures should impeach justices who intentionally misuse the bench to mete out rulings that are contrary to the laws and constitutions of our courts. The elected branches need to tell the judiciary that it may not act in an unconstitutional manner or impose a liberal agenda on the people without allowing the people to have redress through elected representatives and voter initiatives.
The courts do not own the constitutions of our land, and they are not the sole arbitrators of their content. If a few judges were removed from the bench, the rest of the judiciary would act in a more responsible way when dealing with complex social policy issues.
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