The Case for Fairness

Andrew C. McCarthy writes:

"A few months back, I wrote an article for Commentary arguing that we ought to reconsider our anti-torture laws. The argument wasn’t novel. It echoed contentions that had been made with great persuasive force by Harvard’s Professor Alan Dershowitz: that under circumstances of imminent harm to thousands of moral innocents (the so-called “ticking bomb” scenario), it would be appropriate to inflict, under court-supervision, intense but non-lethal pain in an effort to wring information from a morally culpable person — a terrorist known to be complicit in the plot.

As one might predict with such a third rail, my mail was copious and indignant. Opening the door by even a sliver for torture, I was admonished, was the most reprehensible of slippery slopes. No matter how well-intentioned was the idea, no matter the lives that might be saved, no matter how certain we might be about the guilt of the detainee, the very thought that such a thing might be legal would render us no better than the savages we were fighting.

Well, lo and behold, a court-ordered torture is set to begin in Florida on Friday at 1 P.M.

It will not produce a scintilla of socially useful information. It will not save a single innocent life. It is not narrowly targeted on a morally culpable person — the torture-victim is herself as innocent as she is defenseless. It is not, moreover, meant to be brief and non-lethal: The torture will take about two excruciating weeks, and its sole and only purpose is to kill the victim.

On Friday afternoon, unless humanity intervenes, the state of Florida is scheduled to begin its court-ordered torture-murder of Terri Schiavo, whose only crime is that she is an inconvenience. A nuisance to a faithless husband grown tired of the toll on his new love interest and depleting bank account — an account that was inflated only because a jury, in 1992, awarded him over a million dollars, mostly as a trust to pay for Terri’s continued care, in a medical malpractice verdict.

In this instance, though, deafening is the only word for the silence of my former interlocutors — -civil-liberties activists characteristically set on hysteria auto-pilot the moment an al Qaeda terrorist is rumored to have been sent to bed without supper by Don Rumsfeld or Al Gonzales (something that would, of course, be rank rumor since, if you kill or try to kill enough Americans, you can be certain our government will get you three halal squares a day).

Not so Terri Schiavo. She will be starved and dehydrated. Until she is dead. By court order...

...On another Friday, seven years ago, Mohammed Daoud al-`Owhali and Khalfan Khamis Mohammed blew up the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing over 240 people. They were brought to the United States for trial. They were given, at public expense, multiple, highly experienced capital lawyers, and permitted extensive audiences to plead with the Justice Department not to seek the death penalty. When a capital indictment nevertheless was filed, they were given weeks of voir dire to ensure a jury of twelve people open to the notion that even the lives of mass-murderers have value. They were then given seven months of trial and sentencing proceedings, suffuse with every legal and factual presumption that their lives had worth and should be spared. And so they were.

That’s what the law says we must do for terrorists seeking to destroy our country and to slaughter us indiscriminately.

What is the law doing for Terri Schiavo?"

Excellent question. There is hope. For one thing, The US House unanimously passed the "Protection of Incapacitated Persons Act of 2005". This will give the Schindlers the right to federally pursue the case to save their daughter's life.

On the other hand, we have an Action Item today. The House in Florida teeters. Click the link to find the names and contact information of representatives who may yet vote either way on SB2128, which is the companion to House Bill 701. Please keep your verbiage terse and courteous to the effect of, (and I quote) "Pass a law that is constitutional, good public policy and that will protect the interests of Florida's elderly and disabled."

To save some click-through for the terminally, "Oh gawd, Linda, don't make us vist another site!" here's the email list to cut and paste. (For telephone contacts -- click the link.),,,,,,,,,,

posted by Linda on March 17, 2005 04:10 PM

OK, team, I just remembered that my blog has never been c&p-friendly. Hopefully this will be easier:,,,,,,,,,,

Get to it.


Posted by: Linda at March 17, 2005 04:14 PM