Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Fears Coming True Revisited

I just realized that my fears coming true (about a third party declaring that a nerd does not have a life worth living) already happened decades ago. That was a clear subtext of A Most Peculiar Man by Simon and Garfunkel.

Similarly, I disgree with common opinion of my fellow wingnuts that the Terri Schindler Schiavo case is unprecedented. It closely resembles the Nancy Cruzan case. Third parties refused allegedly extraordinary care (like food and water) on behalf of someone who wasn't quite brain dead but who was said to have made some vague comments (possibly thoughtless comments in support of currently popular ideas) expressing a distaste for being kept alive artificially.

On the other hand, Michael Martin managed to win his case. It looked close for a while. In 1994, I posted the following on a CompuServe forum:

"I haven't even looked at the paper today, but I know some judge, somewhere, is making another idiot decision." -- Bob Grant, New York radio personality

For years some pro-lifers and pro-choicers have been looking for something to agree on. It has finally turned up in the latest National Review.

First the facts. Michael Martin, a brain-damaged man in Michigan is the subject of a custody dispute between his wife, Mary Martin, on one hand and his sister and his mother, Pat Major and Leeta Martin, on the other. Mary wants his feeding tube removed, Pat and Leeta don't. Recently Judge George A. Grieg has allowed Mary to have Michael's feeding tube removed. So far this sounds like a typical case of a "persistent vegetative state." The punch line is that Michael can express himself via alphabet board and wants to live.

Are you pro-life? You should obviously be for Michael's right to life. (That would also help silence anybody who says that "right-to-life" seems to end at birth.)

Are you pro-choice? You should be for Michael's choice to live. If pro-choice is something other than a magical incantation intended to eliminate opposition, it stands for the right of persons to make decisions about themselves and have others respect those decisions. It doesn't mean that a judge can simply ignore your expressed choice.

The judge presumably ruled that Michael Martin is not competent to make his own decisions as though the decision-making part of his brain weren't there. If a judge can turn a difference in brain function of no demonstrable relevance into a reason to ignore someone's decisions and his life, then none of us is safe.

Any homosexuals out there? Some scientists claim that your brains are somehow different. If trendy opinion changes, you may find your life disregarded by some judge using that as an excuse.

Any "homophobes" out there, for that matter? There are claims that "homophobia" is a mental illness. What if that influences judges?

If you are somewhat brighter than average, somewhat dimmer than average, or have a notable eccentricity, you are in trouble.

Is there some way to save Michael Martin? Some way to attract publicity to this case? Could Operation Rescue and NARAL join forces?

One last question: Is there anybody out there who can justify killing Michael Martin?


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