Thursday, March 25, 2010

Media Brutality Still Hounds Terri Schiavo 5 Years After Her Death

Terri Schiavo, legally deprived of nutrition and hydration, died five years ago March 31.

Whatever the causes of her collapse on that fateful night in 1990, Terri was instantaneously transformed from a vibrant young woman to a daughter, sibling, and wife with a significant medical disability. Over the years, and against the wishes of her parents and siblings, her rehabilitation was reduced and any possible chance of progress was lost.

In time, Terri became a burden to her husband. No doubt about it, Michael Schiavo wanted Terri dead. He didn’t quite put it that way, of course. Instead, Michael and his pro-death brethren talked about “rights,” “what Terri would have wanted,” and her “poor quality of life.”

Bob and Mary Schindler, Terri’s parents, just wanted to take her home and care for her. Instead, black-cloaked Judge Greer condemned Terri to death.

Her crime?

She needed to be cared for because she was severely brain damaged.

A legal sentence of death for having a disability.

Aside from the unspeakable personal tragedy of Greer’s decision for Terri’s family, a very clear message emerged from the media: If you are disabled, you don’t matter as much as people who are not disabled.

That message is stronger today than ever, because wherever we turn people with disabilities are demeaned, insulted, and hurt.

Case in point: A recent episode of Fox’s Family Guy opened with Terri Schiavo: The Musical. Aside from ludicrous fabrications (Terri hooked up to a battery of machines, including a ventilator) there are these little gems:

Michael Schiavo: She’s a vegetable!

Chorus: We hate vegetables! (Audience laughs).

Also in the musical’s ditties are references to pulling the plug, Terri’s mashed potato brains, and that she’s the most expensive plant you’ll ever see.

Yes, starving and dehydrating someone to death, very funny. Ha-ha.

Severe brain damage? Let’s throw in a cartoon depiction of pouring her mashed potato brains into a bowl. LOL . . .

And the more disabled they are, the funnier the cheap shots are meant to be.

Despicable, but not surprising.

And picking on Terri was no mistake. It was because she can’t fight back.

It’s the schlock humor of media cowards.

Why cowards? Because they don’t have the you-know-what to deride people who would most certainly fight back. You know, like those suffering with HIV/AIDS or breast cancer.

It’s OK to make fun of people with disabilities.

It's all in fun. Surely they won’t mind.

They’re disabled, after all.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to comment, but there are no words available to describe what I feel after reading about this. God help us.

Anonymous said...

I'm disabled and I thought the cartoon was funny. You make the mistake of assuming that there is only one way for a disabled person to feel. I think Terri's husband made the right decision and I abhor the meddling family that tried to score points by using her.
I hope every person abled or disabled will sign a living will to more clearly state their preferences and choices so that they cannot be politicized by outsiders.

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