Thursday, March 31, 2005

Was Her Last Thought "I Thirst"?

So asks Ken Masugi who has been providing excellent historical context on Terri Schiavo's place in American history at The Remedy.

This post takes a look back in time at how the Culture of Death has permeated the Supreme Court and some of its more famous Justices.

Consider the line of cases involving not just the so-called "right to die" (see my post yesterday) but also the treatment of the mentality disabled. Here the infamous 1927 Buck v. Bell case, which justified sterilization of those regarded as mentally ill, should be recalled. Thanks to a thoughtful reader for this quotation, from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who wrote the opinion. (Holmes is a hero to many judicial conservatives, which shows one the problem of restoring constitutional government.)

We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.... Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

Are we more distant from the social darwinism of this opinion now than then?

I agree with Ken:

The consequences for the American legal system will continue, long after the last tsunami story fades away. Here we need serious reflection on the place of the Declaration of Independence in American political and moral life. This is in large measure a fight over the meaning of life and liberty and what can and should be done in their name.

What have we done, or more precisely, what have we let happen?