Shiavo, Starving Children and Justice

After spending a sleepless night wrestling with a comment posted by Adam concerning the Shiavo case, I felt the need to unburden myself. I may catch quite a bit of flack from my conservative buddies. One, however, should not base an opinion solely upon the reaction it will receive.

Adam’s comment connected starving children and Bush policies. While I believe he is patently wrong about the Bush policies, the starving children part gave me pause — made me consider the possibilities. My conclusion: we have lost the “big picture” in the drama of the Shiavo case.

We, as conservatives, are shouting from the roof tops to “err on the side of life.” In theory, I feel the policy should be followed. The problem arises when you try to apply it to the realities of the Shiavo case. I’ve already posted about the extreme cost borne by governments and judiciary at both the state and federal level. To exacerbate matters, Florida’s Department of Children and Families has a serious history of loosing track of youth in its charge. Some of you may be familiar with the Rilya Wilson case that FNC has been following. Last seen in early 2001, the then-four-year-old girl’s disappearance had gone unnoticed by the Florida Department of Children & Families for months. The scandal led to a major shakeup at the agency in the 2002-2003. The police believe Rilya is dead and have indicted her guardian with murder and other charges – although the child’s body has never been found. Rilya’s case is not the only black cloud hanging over that department.

Now, there is no direct correlation between the Wilson and the Shiavo situations – other than the same department was overseeing and investigating both cases during the same time. And, they’ve been requesting to investigate possible abuse in the Shiavo case for a third time. The first two investigations revealed no abuse. While we can’t assess the reasons behind those, the third was obviously used as a delaying tactic. My point is that Rilya fell through the cracks, while Terri received two abuse reviews – and a third was in process. Does that seem fair to you?

It’s time to wake up and realize that Terri isn’t the only one suffering as a result of this case. How many relatively healthy children with futures ahead of them could benefit from the money being spent on this case? How many children are suffering because the Florida Department of Children & Families focuses considerable attention and resources on the Shiavo case?

A comment on my earlier post stated that some people might be more concerned with starving dogs. Shouldn’t we be more concerned about starving children? We hate to admit it, but children starve to death right here in the USA. Often, starvation results from abuse/neglect of a caregiver . . . and often while under the “protection” of government agencies. While I question many entitlement programs, I feel we must save and protect the children.

Listening to The O’Reilly Factor last night, a hospice doctor said perspective needs to be placed on the Shiavo story. According to him, five or six families a day face this exact situation at his hospice. Let me emphasize: the number is from his hospice alone. Even if this hospice was the only one in the country, approximately 2,000 families each year must decide the fate of their loved one. Needless to say, these decisions are always difficult and often contentious.

As a nation, we have become media whores. Give us a good story and sound bites; and, we immediately take sides and draw knives. Very few people are all good or all bad; people’s stories are usually never all right or all wrong. Very few absolutes exist in this world. But, we demand the heroes and the villains — and, the media satisfies our desires. We have become co-dependent in a very unhealthy relationship. Justice, truth and decency suffer.

One person’s life cannot be deemed more important than another’s. In the pursuit of a commendable goal, we created an inequity that must not be ignored. We have again given more weight to those with the better media story and the spotlight lawyers. How can we argue that no expense can be spared to save one life – and then ignore those that need our help by under-funding children services? Can we still assert we provide equal justice for all?

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2 Responses to “Shiavo, Starving Children and Justice”

  1. Big Dog says:

    It is interesting to get the Heritage Foundation’s take on poor in America and the starving children.

  2. Surfside says:

    I wasn’t referring to a legal definition, but a grim reality. You’ve heard about the 49 lb 17 year old boy, have you not? He was wearing a diaper and living in a cage. His siblings weren’t much better. And, no one noticed? Frightening! And, all that without numbing drugs. He, too, lived in the great state of Florida.