Monday, March 21, 2005

Erring on the Side of Life

My opinion on capital punishment has changed in the last few years based on the idea that one mistake is too many for it to be worthwhile. To be executed innocent, knowing that you will always be remembered as guilty for something you didn't do, is as bad a fate as I can imagine. The financial cost of lifetime imprisonment seems a bargain compared to doing this to someone else.

I would not have to look far to find Democrats that agree with me on this view, and I know some that feel this way for the same reason. Why is it then, that they are so opposed to playing it safe with situations like Terri Schiavo or abortion?

I could sooner find a Democrat ready to march for lobster's rights than I could to entertain the notion that late-term abortion could be wrong. They either tuck their tail and chalk it up to a woman's decision, about as cowardly and intellectually dishonest as you can get, or they refuse to believe an 8 month old fetus can be called alive. A lobster? Yes, of course, it feels pain, something must be done to stop their cruel boiling deaths. A fetus? Well, brainwaves schmainwaves, it's not a person until the feet are out. Up until then, suck it, slice it, chemically dissolve it, anything goes.

And Terri Schiavo? I can't count the number of jokers calling in to radio saying, "I'd never want to live like that, I'd want to die." So is that the standard now? Ooh, how unseemly, I'd sooner die than live like that, so anyone else should die too. No, don't try and rehabilitation, if she can't feed herself she's toast. Parents willing to help? How hideous, can somebody just get her dead already? And please, no details on her horrific dehydrating death.

The only difference I can see between a mistaken death penalty victim, and late-term abortion victims or disabled victims is the death penalty victim actually has a chance to defend themselves. The second two are defenseless, and I would think those would be even more important to defend.

I really don't understand it, and I wish I did, because maybe there's a great reason to cut off half of an otherwise viable fetus's head to keep it off of welfare.

Also, interestingly enough, much like in the Iraq War, we find the Democrats hoping for the worst to avoid having their ideas crushed. If Terri Schiavo is rehabilitated, or fetuses become viable earlier because of better medicine, what happens to abortion rights and assisted suicide? Better to starve the lady and not find out of course.

In my opinion it's a losing battle for them, but I hope these same Democrats will hold strong to their barbaric beliefs even when medicine can safely take care of younger fetuses. At least then the argument will be more honest, they want to actively kill inconvenient or undesirable babies and disabled people.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Is This Paragraph Actually Journalism?

In "Wolfowitz tapped for World Bank" by Elizabeth Becker and David E. Sanger of The New York Times, they discuss the planned nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to the World Bank. I don't think it's supposed to be an opinion piece, but I also don't know what you'd call this paragraph:

The announcement... was greeted with quiet anguish in many foreign capitals where the Iraq conflict and its aftermath remain deeply unpopular and Wolfowitz's drive to spread democracy around the world has been viewed with some suspicion.

The depth of my journalism knowledge extends to the old "Who, What, When, Where, Why, And How?" Maybe that's obsolete, but I would think that the paragraph is supposed to pass on some data to the reader.

So let's take it from the top-- "The announcement... was greeted with quiet anguish". Maybe Elizabeth and David are just highly empathetic, but exactly what does that mean? Did anyone say anything, like "I'm in anguish over this Liz" or is that the extent that journalism goes to? "Trust me, even though it was quiet, it was anguish. Take it from me, the New York Times."

Let's assume they measured the anguish and it's sound amplitude and they're right. It was greeted with quiet anguish where? Well, "in many foreign capitals where the Iraq conflict and its aftermath remain deeply unpopular and Wolfowitz's drive to spread democracy around the world has been viewed with some suspicion." OK, let me get my almanac and see which capitals those are. I would assume that maybe they spoke to some people in these capitals, wouldn't it be easier to just list them so I don't have to figure it out myself? Or is it easiest to just type sentences that mean nothing, that say nothing, and send it up through whatever editorial process they have?

They've succeeded in claiming there's quiet anguish over the possible nomination, that the war remains deeply unpopular in many capitals, and that Paul Wolfowitz's democratic drive is viewed with suspicion in those capitals, without having to say who, or where, or what they said that conveyed those feelings.

Two journalists worked on the story, and I assume at least one person read it before approving it. So out it goes, a paragraph of nothing really, from authors who assume they have their finger on the pulse of those nameless capitals and anguished, suspicious people. Impressive work indeed. Story templates, preconceived ideas, and assumptions must save a lot of money on phone bills and travel expenses.

Note: There is more in the story, and some quotes from actual people as well, but to me that only makes the inclusion of this paragraph more curious, why not just say what they heard and leave it at that?