Patterico's Pontifications



Filed under: Dog Trainer,Schiavo — Patterico @ 6:51 am

A reader asks me to shut up about Terri Schiavo already, and I think it’s time to comply. What better way to say “goodbye” to this controversy than by directing your attention to a glib editorial about the case in today’s Los Angeles Dog Trainer?

Although much of the editorial is serious in tone, I can tell that it was written by the idiot who does their light-hearted cutesy editorials (remember the one about the acronyms?). Bad choice. This one is “cleverly” titled To Be or Not To Be, and has lines like this: “By the way, there’s a lingering family feud over $plitting a medical malpractice settlement.” Get it? It’s funny because of the dollar sign!

This editorial is worth discussing because it is an object lesson in how the news media does not give you the whole story. Like many of the news articles I have mentioned over the past few days, the editorial gives no hint of the peculiar facts (described in detail here) that set this controversy apart from many “right to die” cases.

Omitted from the editorial is any hint that maybe Mr. Schiavo shouldn’t be the one making this decision. Omitted are the references to the nurse’s affidavit saying that Mr. Schiavo asked, “When is that bitch going to die?” Omitted is the fact that Mr. Schiavo has been fighting rehabilitation for Ms. Schiavo, after collecting on a civil judgment obtained largely through the promise of pursuing such rehabilitation. Omitted is the fact that a world-renowned expert and Nobel Prize nominee has testified that Ms. Schiavo is not in a “persistent vegetative state,” or that ten other physicians testified or gave statements to the same effect. Omitted is the fact that Terri once had a guardian ad litem who recommended against dehydrating her to death.

The Dog Trainer editors don’t think you need to know this information. After all, it would interfere with the message they want to convey: that this is a simple “right to die” case. And the news media loves to accuse the public of being too simplistic.

Ultimately, the advocates of Ms. Schiavo’s death would have you rely on the opinions of (some of) the doctors who examined Ms. Schiavo and have deemed that her vegetative state is “persistent.” “Trust the doctors,” we are told.

If the differing medical testimony I describe above doesn’t make you think twice about putting blind faith in the opinions of doctors, perhaps this story will. It’s about the recent wildcat strike by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies. If you haven’t heard about this, deputies are striking for a better contract. Many have come down with a case of the “blue flu” and called in sick, paralyzing the jails and courts. As reported here, an Orange County judge issued a temporary restraining order early this month, barring further sickouts. However, “hundreds of deputies called in sick in the days that followed.” For example, at the Central Jail, two-thirds of the deputies called in sick one day.

But, you see, it’s okay. They all really did just get sick all of a sudden, at the same time that they were having a labor dispute. We know this really happened, because doctors said so: “Outside court, union President Roy Burns said all of the deputies had doctors’ notes that excused them from work for that day.”

UPDATE: For those who put their trust in the doctors, please read Rus Cooper-Dowda’s piece entitled When I Woke Up.

Also read recent articles by Wesley Smith, including from Oct. 20, 21, and 22. (Via Tonecluster.)

UPDATE x2: No sooner do I announce that I am cutting off posts on the subject than I hear from a different reader who wants me to continue to follow the story, especially in light of reports like this one indicating that a guardian hasn’t been appointed, and that Mr. Schiavo may be playing games again. I appreciate this reader’s concern, and I recommend that he and others consult WorldNetDaily, which seems to have the most up-to-date coverage.

UPDATE x3: Sorry, can’t resist this. A Reason article concludes that Schiavo should be allowed to die, but also reports:

Minnesota neurologist Ronald Cranford told the Washington Post, “There has never been a documented case of someone recovering after having been in a persistent vegetative state for more than 3 months.”

Pretty convincing. But wait! There’s more!

However, the journal Brain Injury reported the case, of a 26-year-old woman who, after being diagnosed as suffering from a persistent vegetative state for six months, recovered consciousness and, though severely disabled, is largely cognitively intact. However, it is generally agreed that if a patient doesn’t become responsive before six months, his or her prognosis is extremely poor.

Looks like “Minnesota neurologist Ronald Cranford” didn’t get the memo! But trust the doctors! Also, note that a lack of responsiveness after six months means the prognosis is “extremely poor” — not “hopeless.”


  1. […] .” October 22, 2003: Michael Schiavo bars Terri’s family from visiting her. October 23, 2003: I give some basic facts about the controversy, in showing […]

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  2. […] .” October 22, 2003: Michael Schiavo bars Terri’s family from visiting her. October 23, 2003: I give some basic facts about the controversy, in showing […]

    Patterico's Pontifications » Terri Schiavo’s Feeding Tube Removed (0c6a63)

  3. […] OK, I made up that last line. But my point is very real: the experts are often wrong. This is a point I have made before (for example, see UPDATE x3 to this post). But it keeps getting made again — all the time. […]

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  4. […] Sometimes they’re definitely wrong. When the doctor says nobody has ever recovered after being in a diagnosed persistent vegetative state for more than 3 months — he is wrong. Make sure he doesn’t testify at your court proceeding; the guy who said that has testified at a bunch of them. […]

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