DEATH AND HYPOCRISY
In response to Laurence Britt's commentary, "Saving Schiavo: Hypocrisy Without Limit," March 30: I agree there was some hypocrisy by the elected officials opposed to the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube. But there was also some hypocrisy in the positions taken by the courts that ultimately decided Schiavo's fate.
Although I support an Oregon law that permits physician-assisted suicide under certain circumstances, and although I would also favor clemency for Dr. Jack Kevorkian, I have mixed feelings about Schiavo. Because Schiavo had apparently adapted to many years of living with a feeding tube, because she did not appear to be suffering, because of uncertainties about her wishes, and because of doubts that her death from dehydration and starvation would really be painless, I wonder if justice was really done.
To Britt's list of hypocrisies, I'd like to add that most of the elected officials who spoke up either for or against the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube have shown little concern for the lives of millions of other vulnerable Americans who are mistreated in private and government-run long-term care facilities.
During the past 10 years, Congress has released 32 reports documenting widespread maltreatment at thousands of nursing homes, including unnecessary deaths or injuries caused by abuse or neglect. In recent years, state health-department surveys have cited several nursing homes in MonroeCounty for providing substandard quality of care and for placing residents in immediate jeopardy (the most serious level of deficiencies).
Yet nursing-home reform was conspicuous by its absence from the Bush-Kerry debates and from any other election campaign last year, for Congress or the state legislature. When will President Bush call Congress into special session, as he did in the Schiavo case, to deal with nursing-home abuse? After all, in his attempts to save Schiavo's life, Bush said, "The essence of civilization is the obligation of the strong to protect the weak."
Kevorkian is imprisoned for euthanizing a man suffering from end-stage Lou Gehrig's disease. The man and his entire family had sought Kevorkian's assistance and consented to Kevorkian's humanely and quickly ending the man's life.
The courts have held that such Kevorkian-style lethal injections are murder (unless administered for capital punishment), while causing a severely handicapped person to die of water and food deprivation is legally acceptable. This, too, is hypocrisy. Once it was decreed that the time had come for Schiavo to die, a lethal injection would have been the most humane means of death.
Joel Freedman, North Main Street, Canandaigua
Renaissance Square is a fiasco of the first order.
It is a project that has no market basis. Millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent, and many more are about to be spent on this ill-conceived albatross. And information on the millions that will be required annually to operate the complex is absent from public announcements.
Renaissance Square is not good urban planning, nor has the private sector indicated any financial interest in supporting the project. It has an underground, single-use bus station that will not increase ridership or improve the service efficiency of largely suburban routes.
Meanwhile, the downtown Main Street corridor continues to stagnate or deteriorate with no public attention. The Amtrak Station is a public disgrace and improved rail service, which would result in a long-term economic benefit to the area, is ignored.
Where are the voices of local architects, planners, and engineers questioning the integrity and value of the politically created Renaissance Square? Where is the media asking the hard questions regarding the feasibility of this project?
Attractive architectural renderings, even by the world-renowned firm of Moshe Safdie & Associates, will not compensate for this seriously flawed Main Street concept. The community silence is deafening as we are led to the fleecing!
Irene T. Ladd, Greece
Editor's note: For the record, City Newspaper has objected to the bus-station plan since its inception, for numerous reasons, including the underground component and the operating costs. We have similarly objected to the "performing arts center" portion of Ren Square because it seems less a "center" than a single theater for Broadway road shows, with hopes, possibly, for additional theaters, at some unspecified time in the future. We have also complained, for years, that there has been virtually no public input in the plans for the arts center, and the management structure and operating costs are still unknown. In addition, we have suggested that the MonroeCommunity College tech center should be located in the SibleyBuilding.
Your editorial writers seem to be in a state of denial about the United Nations (Laurence Britt's "One Mind Fits All," March 23). Ever hear of the Iraqi "Oil for Food Scandal" involving Kofi Annan's son and former second-in-command? How about the new scandal involving sexual abuse of children by UN staffers in Eastern Europe and the Congo?
Don't you think a UN which has Libya and the Sudan on its Human Rights Commission deserves disdain? You know the Sudan: That's the place where Arabs are enslaving (literally) and murdering black tribes like the Nuba. I believe the word is genocide? Does reality have any influence whatsoever on your writer's UN fantasies?
Alan L. Glaser, Rochester
Laurence Britt's response: The UN is not a perfect institution, but at the moment it is the only one we have. No country on earth is perfect, either, and all, including the US, have done things that are regrettable. The question is: Does the US wish to try to work with the UN to make it and the world a better place or follow a strictly unilateral approach?
The appointment of John Bolton sends another strong message to the world that the US is oblivious to international opinion, is above international law, and will use its overwhelming power as it alone sees fit. Many Americans, apparently including Mr. Glaser, think this is a good thing. The overwhelming majority of people the world over, including the people of our traditional allies, are disgusted with this American arrogance, as shown by numerous opinion polls.
In our own Declaration of Independence, the phrase "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind" was used to describe our concern for world opinion. Now the neocon philosophy is to thumb our nose at anyone with another opinion. Sooner or later, losing a "decent respect" will come home to haunt us.
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