We incite, you decide

The Schiavo case is almost over -- unless Fox News has its way.

By Tim Grieve
Published March 25, 2005 1:20PM (EST)

A federal judge in Florida rejected the latest legal maneuver by Terri Schiavo's parents early this morning, bringing the case ever closer to an end. But Fox News anchor John Gibson isn't ready to give up yet. In a commentary posted on the Fox Web site yesterday, Gibson said that it's time for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to take the law into his own hands.

"Just to burnish my reputation as a bomb thrower, I think Jeb Bush should give serious thought to storming the Bastille," Gibson said. "By that I mean he should think about telling his cops to go over to Terri Schiavo's hospice, go inside, put her on a gurney and load her into an ambulance. They could take her to a hospital, revive her, and reattach her feeding tube. It wouldn't save Terri exactly; she'd still be in the same rotten shape she was in before they disconnected the feeding tube. But the point is, the temple of the law is so sacrosanct that an occasional chief executive cannot flaunt it once in a while, sort of drop his drawers on the courthouse steps and moon the judges, as a way to protest the complete disregard courts and judges have shown here, in this case, for facts outside the law."

For a law and order, fair and balanced guy like Gibson to advocate that Jeb Bush ignore court orders and violate the law, Gibson must believe that the courts are showing pretty flagrant disregard for the "facts outside the law" of which he speaks. What are those "facts"? Gibson cited only one. He said that, because Michael Schiavo has started a family with another woman, the court should no longer consider him Terri Schiavo's guardian. "Any woman in America can see Michael Schiavo and Terri Schiavo are not really married anymore," Gibson said.

"Not really married?" You'd think a man so up in arms about the role of the judiciary in American society might be a little wary about giving judges the right to decide who is "really married" and who isn't. Want to file a joint tax return? Want to avoid the estate tax on property left to you by your late wife? Want to collect your survivor's benefits under Social Security? In John Gibson's world, you'd better be prepared to discuss the state of your marriage with a federal judge.

It's clear that Gibson wouldn't want to have to do that himself: He's eager to announce the low esteem in which he apparently holds all judges everywhere. Weeks after one judge was killed in his courtroom and the family of another judge was murdered in their home, you might think that Gibson would be careful about demonizing judges. You'd be wrong. After suggesting that judges don't think the way that "real people" do, Gibson asked himself whether he's saying that "judges aren't real people." His answer: "Well, judging by what happened" in the Schiavo case, "I'd say yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. So Jeb, call out the troops, storm the Bastille and tell 'em I sent you."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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