But not for Roger Ebert. Despite the loss of his voice Roger could still write, and what couldn’t be written Chaz could say for him. That’s how things went for Roger over the last seven years or so. Do an online search and story after story emerges of the Eberts playfully appearing at film festivals and movie premiers, Roger offering his signature “two thumbs up” gestures with Chaz doing the talking.
An extraordinary example of the Eberts’ “grace under fire” appears in a video on Youtube. Roger and Chaz are sitting on the set in a remote studio being interviewed by a CNN Host at the Anchor desk. The Host, noticeably awkward with Roger’s appearance and inaudible gestures, thanks Roger for his courage to continue appearing on TV, noting that Roger had been such a handsome on-camera performer for so many years. Through hand signals, scrawling on a note pad, and some vocal help from Chaz, Roger shoots-back at the host and says “what do you mean I was handsome? I think I’m still looking pretty good!”
The fact is, Roger looked rather odd with his jaw removed, but that apparently didn’t matter to the confident and in-love couple known as Roger and Chaz. The value of one’s life transcends their immediate physical appearance and level of functioning, and Roger’s sustained presence in the public square was a testimony to that ultimate truth. Yet on this point, Roger’s final years were an anathema to those who are quick to advocate for rationed healthcare and euthanasia, believing that people as old and incapacitated as Roger quite naturally have a “duty to die.”
Tragically, during the same week that the courageous Roger Ebert left us, some horrific news broke about Medicare, the federal healthcare program for senior adults. Under the federal Obamacare law, funding for Medicare is being gradually cut to allow for increased expenditures on Medicaid, the federal healthcare program for the poor, and on the Obamacare program itself. As a result, a new trend has emerged: Medicare is increasingly denying treatment to elderly cancer patients (Is this the “change” you were “hoping” for?).
From a raw political standpoint, this makes sense. Sickly senior citizens are a less-viable voter-block than are younger and middle-aged citizens (those who can benefit from Obamacare and Medicaid). But from a moral standpoint this is an abomination. Is the life of every elderly cancer patient as valuable as Roger Ebert’s was? In political terms, the answer is “no.”
Thank you Roger and Chaz for some important lessons. Are Americans willing to learn from them?
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.