Saturday, April 02, 2005

Low Blow?

Oh, something else occurred to me: has anyone else heard that the Pope is refusing further intensive medical care? That's what it says here, and the linked NYT article says "The pope, who decided not to be readmitted to the hospital, was visited in his apartment at the Vatican..." Now, there could be any number of caveats, mistaken details, or lost nuance here, but didn't the Pope say recently that it is a Catholic's responsibility to all they can to prolong life? Ah, he did, but apparently to "prolong life futilely" is not required. What's interesting is that among the "experts" in this USA Today article, some draw a distinction the other way 'round: the Pope isn't near- or partially-brain dead, so a feeding tube is appropriate; Ms. Schiavo had no higher cognitive functions (this was not among substantial debate among mainstream medical doctors), so prolonging her life was "futile" in the sense that all parts of the brain that were Terri were already dead, and her death was caused by this brain damage suffered as a result of her heart attack. Of course, other ethicists said that there is no reason to let the partially-brain-dead die and that it was unethical for Terri since she could have lived years longer (whereas the Pope, clearly, is near complete bodily shut-down, a different case in this regard). It's an interesting argument. Not one that I want to say much more on right now, though.

Relatedly, Christopher Hitchens, dumbass hack losing-talent-left-and-Right journalist, writing at Slate, has what almost approaches an argument I agree with about the Pope and his, er, unfortunate legacy here, but I warn you: this is not for the weak of heart, or those in grieving for the Pope as it takes him strongly to task. I believe Mr. Hitchens has some correct points, and in this case his usual bilious vitriol seems almost justified in my mind, but many believe it is inappropriate to bring up anything negative about a person nearly or recently deceased. I have some sympathy for this stance, though I feel more that it was the person's responsibility to deal with the negatives in their life, and did they not, in a just evaluation and meditation of their life and legacy, there's not responsibility to whitewash or avoid the bad delicately. But I also don't believe in tormenting those that loved the person, so, like I say, don't read this for some time if you are dearly suffering from the Pope's decline and seemingly imminent death. (What's truly needed in such cases, perhaps, is a Speaker for the Dead, one who tells the truth of a person's life, the whole truth -- what they did, what they failed at, what they attempted, what they accomplished, and who they were in their own eyes -- though this would likely not fly in Vatican City.)

Read also about the porn that is modern news here by movie hipster and J sardonic (tv/movie) culture critic, Lizz Dana Penn Stevens.

Lastly, customarily "news-lite" newspaper USA Today apparently has been giving well-done Iraq coverage (and apparently has a bonzo anonymous source policy, a policy that helps to fight the tendency, in Slate's Jack Shafer's words, " degrade the information content of news stories in which they're quoted. Most anonymice spin and leak selectively for political, personal, or institutional gain, and all the "balancing quotations" from other sources can never erase their taint...")

Ok, ok, now on to ants (albeit the southern cousins of those on the linked webpage). Tchau.

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