Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
March 31, 2005

Timely Look At The Right To Die

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One of the unique things about America is that, in it’s self-importance, it always seems to lose it’s memory.

On the TIME website, the publishers regularly profile past issues, often re-running editions that have some relevance to current events.  I was struck by the TIME cover from March 19, 1990 which was offered this week.  Of course, I’m also interested in your impressions.

Primarily, this image makes me realize how romanticized the pictures of Terri Schiavo are.  Perhaps we’re so used to “spin” these days, we fail to realize how much the photos of Terri function as propaganda.  This shot, with the feeding tube exposed, showing the unconscious daughter truly unconscious, and the parent truly alone, represents a critical dimension that’s been missing (at least visually) from the Schiavo story.  Assuming Christine Busalacchi had the capacity to swallow, do you think any Senator, seeing this picture, would have dared insist she be offered bread and water?  And, more specifically, doesn’t it make you wonder how Terri and her parents would really go together in a similar shot?

Looking at Christine (as if, to my horror, I had accidentally pulled back the wrong curtain at the hospice), it makes me think again about Terri’s wishes — not just for her life, but for her own privacy.  Don’t forget, it was bulimia — characterized by a psychopathological preoccupation with one’s own image — that led to her brain damage in the first place.

Also, notice the headline here: “The Right To Die.” 

Is it possible the culture had a more enlightened (or less inhibited?)  (or less politicized?) attitude about death fifteen years ago?  If so, maybe the primary issue the Schindler’s and the religious right (and the rest of us, for that matter) are having to struggling with is less about life, and more about denial.

(image: Time.com)

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