Friday, June 17, 2005

Facts and reality 

I was reading through MSNBC's report on the autopsy of Terri Schiavo this morning, and a few things jumped out at me.

That the Schindlers, Mrs. Schiavo's parents, have not and apparently have no wish to come to grips with the edeath of their daughter, and the medical fact that she was in a persistent vegetative state for an extended period of time prior to her death, is somewhat understandable. That they are "exploring every option" to waste more money on lawyers and drag other people, aided eagerly by the media, to continue to dwell on this can only be regarded as ghastly in the extreme. After so many years of fighting, it appears to an extremely disinterested outsider that they have become convinced that continuing to fight, continuing to try to hurt her now-former husband, Mr Michael Schiavo, is the only way they can remember and honour their dead daughter.

What might be more troubling, however, is the reaction of others who have injected themselves into what started as and should always have remained a private family matter. Self-styled "conservative" "thinkers" such as "President" Bush have issued public statements implying that their support for the Schindlers extends beyond the normal courtesies a civilised person extends to those grieving the loss of a close loved one. Rather, I expect that the newly-released autopsy report, and the autopsy photos which Mr Schiavo has announced will be released later, will become as much of a political weapon as the earlier court battle immediately prior to he death. The world will soon see another example of whether those who claim to speak foro America as a whole are reasonable, moderate, caring and wise, or if the newspapers and airwaves are about to be splattered with endless "analysis" and condemnation of reality for political gain.

It is no secret that the US public education system has almost completely collapsed over the last 30 years - whether as a result of malice or overburdening depends on your politics. But the net effect is that Americans, certainly those in or below their mid-forties now, do not have the attention span, temperament or training in critical thinking and analysis to be able to see the difference between whether they are being led or being manipulated against their own interests. People paid very close attention to the oversensationalised Michael Jackson trial - which brought the city of Santa Barbara, California a bonanza of trial-fuelled tourist dollars. It was difficult durinbg the last couple of months to find serious, thoughtful discussion of anything really important (i.e., having a real effect on the lives and well-being of a significant number of people) in Washington or internationally. What "coverage" there was tended to be the prepackaged "multinationals good/greedy workers bad" (or vice versa) superficiality that has programmed Americans so effectively in recent years.

It may even be said, in the not-too-distant future (this afternoon?), that the root cause for the American people accepting the total usurpation of control over their nation by those obviously and demonstrably not pursuing Americans' best interests is that the last thirty years hae been dedicated to teaching people to trust their "feelings" (prejudices) over anything they see in the world around them. Once that is complete, the finest, most effective marketing industry - and its masters - have completely free rein to reign as they please. That any serious attempt to explore, or even discuss this tends to be shouted down immediately only testifies to the technique's sordid effectiveness. Neither Leni Riefenstahl nor 1984's Ministry of Truth could even conceive of propaganda so efficient and effective.

No, the reaction to the Schiavo autopsy isn't surprising in the least. It's the logical corollary of a phenomenon that has been continuing for some time, coming to a head in December, 2000: bread and (televised) circuses can not only keep people from seeing what is being done to them, but, properly managed, can manipulate them into doing it to themselves. If the Republican-held Congress passes laws binding doctors' hands in similar cases, especially by giving supersition or politics primacy over scientific, rational reality, I will not be suprised in the slightests. I will, instead, continue my own grieving - for the dead country that in many ways was the greaatest that the world has ever known - the constitutional republic known as the United States of America.

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