Saturday, March 19, 2005

Seriously Misplaced Priorities...
Re Terri Shiavo: I will admit to not having paid much attention to this stuff, but the last two weeks have been nearly wall-to-wall Terri coverage on the news, in between Michael Jackson, Jessica Lundsford (R.I.P Little One, may God comfort you!) and Scott Peterson.

From where I sit, it all brings up serious questions about the priorities and utility vis-a-vis the courts in this country.

In the case of Terri Shiavo, here we have a woman who has been in a vegetative state for several years. She does not function normally, being unable to swallow and thus feed herself, probably cannot communicate with those around her, and for all I know, is completely unaware of her condition and surroundings. But, and this is important --- she is still alive.

And this seems to be a problem for her husband, who from what I can gather, was once devoted to her care and maintenance, until the malpractice suit paid off. Now he's got himself a new woman and a gaggle of children, and wants to see Terri's life support apparatus disconnected. Apparently, this is cheaper than a divorce. Now, I don't not know all of the details, but it does seem rather convenient that seven years into her coma or whatever it is, the husband suddenly remembers that Terri told him not to take extraordinary measures or somesuch to prolong her life in this situation. Also coveniently, these insturctions were never written down, and apparently he's the only one who can verify that she ever said any such thing. Since Terri, barring a miracle, will never be able to testify to that point on her own, this premise stinks on ice.

However, a court in Florida seems more than willing to see things the husband's way, and a judge has ordered that the feeding tube be removed. This has happened several times in the past, and every time, the courts have seen fit to reverse such rulings. From what I have been able to gather, this is not the only judge that has ordered that Terri be starved to death, which makes it look to me that the husband, in his desperation to kill off his wife, has been shopping for judges for several years --- and keeps finding ones that see things his way. I'll bet a dollar to a doughnut that these same judges would be opposed to the death penalty for a violent murderer and possibly have handed out heavy-handed sentences to animal abusers, but seem to have no problem with killing off an innocent person who just happens to have been seriously injured and who might one day be rehabilitated. I'm not a neurologist, but the possibility seems to exist that perhaps, one day, Terri just might snap out of it, or with effort, be made somewhat functional again.

Vis-a-vis Michael Jackson, the courts have been all over the map on his activities and proclivities and still we go through the motions of having a trial. As far as I'm concerned, one allegation might be someone with an axe to grind. Two allegations raise eyebrows. Mike is on his fourth or fifth allegation. At what point do we begin to realize that, perhaps, these allegations are true? I realize that there is a burden of proof and people are innocent until proven otherwise and all of that other legal bullshit, but either Michael is guilty or he's the unluckiest sonofabitch on the planet. In his case, instead of a trial, we're treated to a circus and a PR offensive: this trial is no longer about law, facts and evidence, it's about lawyers making each other's witnesses look bad. Each day we hear about the prosecution scoring a point, only to have the defense score one of it's own, and from what I can tell, we're getting no closer to the truth: is Michael Jackson molesting children? Is he a pedophile who needs to be locked away for the safety of society? Or is all of this courtroom manuevering just a serious waste of time?

Jessica Lunsford has been murdered, and God knows whatever else happened to her. The perp is a convicted sex offender whom the courts deemed safe to be released from prison. Mistake number one. The perpetrator, John Couey, was listed in a Florida sex offender directory and suppposed to be supervised in some way, but somehow, he managed to not be where he was supposed to be and then fled the jurisdiction, finally being arrested in Georgia. Mistake number two. How the courts in Florida can debate the deliberate starving to death of an innocent woman and let a convicted (24 arrests), persistent offender walk the streets in order to prey upon little grils is beyond me.

We won't even get into Peterson's situation.

The courts are supposed to protect us, they are supposed to enforce the law, as it is written. Instead, we get courts packed to the gills with judges who are willing to use their discretion to advance some seriously demented agendas: that inconveniently ill people can be killed, that the obviously guilty can continue to buy their way out of justice, that criminals have rights after being convicted and are entitled to walk around despite the fact that they will offend again. Add this to recent court rulings about everything under the sun from the Ten Commandments to Gay Marriage to Immigration problems and it's hard to see just what utility the courts are serving in this day and age. It certainly is not to uphold the law with any kind of common sense or decency, or to protect the civil society in which we're supposed to be living in.

For what it's worth, here's my opinion:

-Terri's husband should be taken out and shot. The judge(s) who fell for his seemingly transparent recollection of Terri's will not to be saved should be drawn and quartered, on Pay-per-view.

- Michael Jackson is as guilty as all sin, it's been obvious for a decade now, and the legal manuevering should cease and the judge in that case should set himself towards enforcing the law.

- John Couey should be made to suffer a slow, agonizing death, peferably something to do with honey and a nest of fire ants. All sex offenders should be locked away forever, to hell with civil rights in their case. I'd return to the ancient Roman practice of making human candles out of them, which would put a dent in the country's energy problems.

- Scott Peterson should have been executed as soon as the guilty verdict came in. Barring some atomic bomb-like evidence (and it appears that none will be forthcoming, the man was caught dead to rights), screw the appeal process. We should stop looking at criminals as victims of circumstance and start looking at them as they are: seriously demented people who pose a danger to the rest of us.

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