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Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Doing my part to irritate Republicans, fundamentalists, bigots and other lower life forms.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Deciphering the right wing

Like an epiphanous light bulb that goes on above a cartoon character's head when he gets an idea, a thought occurred to me while watching all the blather from Republican lawmakers and the right-wing propaganda machine over the right-to-die case of Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman who has spent the last 15 years in a persistent vegetative state.

The right wing likes to talk about the sanctity of marriage and how it needs to be defended against all those gays and lesbians who want to sully "marriage" by insisting they have the same rights to a 50-some hour Las Vegas wedding as Britany Spears. Just mention same-sex marriage and watch the Republicans start waving their "Sanctity of Marriage" banners.

But where are those banners in the Schiavo case? Even going back to centuries-old English common law, a spouse should have the final say in deciding issues for an incapacitated partner. The idea behind that is simple: No one chooses his or her own family, but a spouse is chosen. That special relationship gives a husband or wife greater authority in the eyes of the law to make decisions on behalf of the other spouse if he or she becomes incapacitated.

So if the Republicans and the right-wing believe so much in the sanctity of marriage, why override the decision of Michael Schiavo to remove his wife from her feeding tubes after a long and fruitless wait of 15 years? Why disregard centuries of legal precedents that recognize a spouse's right to speak for his or her partner's wishes?

"Because it's not about the Sanctity of Marriage ... it's about the Sanctity of LIFE!" answers the right wing blowhards.

Ah ... so Life trumps Marriage in the right-wing lexicon.

But then it begs the question: If Life is so sacred to the right wing, what makes the quasi-"life" of one woman so much more sacred than the American lives lost in Iraq. (Notice how I specified "American" lives lost. The right wing shows a marked preference for not considering - or evening acknowledging - the Iraqi civilians lost in the past two years.) Aren't those lives as sacred as Terri Schiavo's?

At this point the right-wingers roll their eyes and sigh with exasperation. That's when it occurs to me: For the right wing, the Sanctity of Life trumps the Sanctity of Marriage every time. But when pushed into a corner and confronted with their hypocrisy, Republicans will pull out the one card that trumps all the others - protecting the Sanctity of Sanctimony.