A favorite game in my house is called ?Piggyback Ride.? One of my boys hops on my back, and we attempt to frighten their mother, who convincingly calls out, ?Oh, I?m so scared.?
She?s just pretending.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman isn?t. He?s really frightened that conservatives ? may start killing liberals.
In a piece printed March 29, just two days before Terri Schiavo died, Krugman addressed her case. ?The desire to show respect for other people?s beliefs all too easily turns into denial,? he wrote. ?Nobody wants to talk about the threat posed by those whose beliefs include contempt for democracy itself.?
That?s an interesting take on this case. Who knew that the democratic majority had spoken? Oh, sure, there is polling data that show a majority of Americans agreed her feeding tube should have been removed. But polls aren?t votes, as John Kerry knows all too well.
In fact, Krugman confuses the action of one judge with the democratic will of the country. Keep in mind that just one Florida judge ruled the tube should be pulled; all the other courts merely let that ruling stand.
Krugman goes on to claim, ?Another thing that?s going on is the rise of politicians willing to violate the spirit of the law, if not yet the letter, to cater to the religious right.? Well, judges don?t write laws. Or, at least, they?re not supposed to. Judges are supposed to interpret the laws passed by legislators, a.k.a. ?politicians.?
As Krugman fears, they may write laws that cater to the religious right. But if that?s so terrible, well, those lawmakers still have to face voters and explain why they did what they did. Judges seldom have to explain their rulings to anyone.
As far as the ?spirit of the law? goes, well, the legislature passed the law. Its members certainly have a better sense of a law?s ?spirit? than any judge reading it does. That?s why it?s laughable when Krugman writes, ?Everyone knows about the attempt to circumvent the courts through ?Terri?s law.?? Yes, how dare those lawmakers, the ones who passed the laws the judge is interpreting, attempt to circumvent a judge?s reading of them.
Whether we agree or not, it?s the Florida legislature that exercises ?democracy.? And it did in 2003, writing a law that allowed Florida?s governor to have Schiavo?s tube reinserted. Personally, I get nervous when any legislature -- including Congress -- passes a law aimed specifically at one person. Tyranny can lie down that road.