Death's been a high profile issue today with Terri Schiavo, the Pope and now Prince Rainier facing final curtains. I'm not much fussed about Prince Rainier, but my first reaction to the Terri Schiavo case was, 'well, fifteen years in a vegetative state -- what's the point?', soon followed by 'hmm, it sounds complex.'
What to make of American media circuses about moral issues anyway? This one's more extreme than any euthanasia drama Philip Nitzsche's managed to drum up (perhaps he would be more at home in America, given the greater potential for media spectator sports on moral issues. He's certainly made me look at plastic bags in a new light). I find it bizarre how American families can polarise themselves publicly like guests on a Jerry Springer show. And galling just how much acrimony is being played out between the Schiavos and the Shindlers after the poor woman's death.
I'm no judge of such things but the photos they show of Schiavo seem to indicate some level of engagement with her carers (e.g. eye contact). Thirteen days without food and water seems like a horrible way to go -- how conscious might she have been and for how long? Is this the beginning of some new thin end of the wedge for disabled people? Schiavo could be set to become a new saint for the pro-lifers or the pro-euthanasia lobby, either way -- for having her life ended on what seem like murky, involuntary pretexts and for dying such a protracted and horrible death.
An extra resonance has been brought to Schiavo's death by the Pope's declining health and the somewhat flimsy parallels made between his feeding tube and hers. I hate to admit this, but ever since the bulletins about his ill health started, I've found myself thinking, 'I just wish the old fart would hurry up and die.' Can't wait to get rid of old Karel -- and I'm not even a Catholic and have never been one, so I don't know why I feel this way. (And he is just part of the Vatican machine, after all.) But wouldn't it be good if there could actually be a world leader who exercised some kind of reassuring pastoral care at this point in time, rather than all this repressive small-mindedness and meanspiritedness? Some sort of international William Deane figure.
I've got nothing to say about Prince Rainier, really, except that I was always amazed by that documentary about Grace Kelly's cultic activities and how she was supposedly multi-orgasmic in activities at the secret Swiss cultic lodge even tho she looked like a veritable ice queen...you can never tell!
And then (to change the subject) there's Peter Costello wanting to get single mums working...Tangent: I remember during my misspent youth in Whitebread how I was warned about studying at certain higher education institutions because of the possibility that I would be inculcated in socialist feminist lesbian principles...which is of course exactly what happened -- and worse! Conservative types who issued such warnings did so on the pretext that 'we wouldn't want to end up like communist countries' where 'women had no choice but to work and grandmothers ended up bringing up their babies' (the spread of communism being a major fear in the heartland of suburbia, even in my youth -- bizarre, really; communist invasion of banal Sydney suburbs had to be pretty unlikely. I'm sure that Asian/Muslim immigration has since superceded this fear.) Also, ending up wearing a blue boiler suit (a la Communist China or inner city lesbians) was another risk touted by such types. Actually, the twin prospects of working and wearing blue boiler suits were quite attractive to me anyway, but the tangential point is how keen the conservatives are nowadays for women to have both babies and work, if possible, now that they've realised the declining birthrate wont sustain the economy long-term. Fight it on both fronts, using women!
And -- is there something of a hierarchy of mums being proposed here? Single mums are to be prodded into employment with coercive mutual obligation arrangements. Whereas married women still get Hakim's three-way choice: full-time picket fence; full-time work or half-time work/half-time picket fence. But After five years, why shouldn't full-time married mums be prompted into employment so they don't lose their employment skills and end up in their own dependency cycle, relying on a man to bring home the bacon? Why should they be rewarded?
BUT -- THEY HAVE A MAN! They've held on to him, they haven't lost him, even if he's been a turd. Special lucky ducks, the right kind of people we want to have in our society and reward with increased options.
You see, these mutual obligation arrangements are bloody damn selective and target the most marginal groups...