February 5, 2005


The Hollywood-Media 'Million Dollar Baby' Hoax (Joan Swirsky, Dec. 25, 2004, NewsMax)

It’s no secret that the mainstream media and the Hollywood set share similar – and questionable – values. Case in point: the recent resounding defeat of their presidential candidate by voters who overwhelmingly reported that it was "values" that ultimately determined their candidate of choice.

Among those values was honesty, the simple virtue of saying what one means and meaning what one says. But in the world of moral relativism in which media spinners and Hollywood make-believers live, honesty is often subordinate to the higher "values" of cocktail party invitations, the approval of publishers or producers, the great god of political correctness and, of course, mountains of money. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the recent release of "Million Dollar Baby," the new Clint Eastwood film that trailers artfully convey as an endearing “relationship” movie between a gritty boxing manager and an even grittier female boxer wannabe, a sort of million-to-one-odds story that, viewers were assured, would have them in for a good ole sentimental cry – perfect for the Christmas season. [...]

We walked into "Million Dollar Baby" fully expecting to see good or great performances and a movie that "promised" us – remember those trailers, ads and reviews! – both riveting and enjoyable entertainment.

But as they say in New York: Fuggedaboudit! Not because I didn’t agree with what the reviewers said, deceptive as it was. It’s what they didn’t say that was so infuriating – and so indefensibly dishonest!

What they didn’t say was that Dunn’s protege Maggie establishes a remarkable boxing record, rising quickly to become a one-knockout wonder. But in a rematch with a known dirty fighter, she gets slammed from behind and crashes, headfirst and with graphic, temple-gouging horror, through her boxing stool.

Next scene: Maggie is hospitalized as a quadriplegic, on a life-support respirator, with no hope of ever moving again but with Dunn sitting faithfully by her side day after day, week after week – significantly missing the daily Mass he has attended for 23 years as well as the frequent consultations he has had with his foul-mouthed priest.

Maggie wants Dunn to help her die, but not yet. First she develops a vividly depicted blue-purple, foul-smelling, fulminating infection, which requires that her leg be amputated. Again, she asks for his help. But, still, not yet. So, she bites off her own tongue and Dunn enters the room as blood is spewing, spurting, dripping everywhere. Is it time yet? Well, not quite.

But finally Dunn decides it is time and methodically prepares his euthanasia kit, which he implements with a wink and a nod from Maggie’s nurse.

This is the movie that ads now say "May contain scenes not suitable for those under the age of 13." Duh.

As critic Harry Forbes (Tidings online) finally admitted: "What starts out as a formulaic, Rockyesque fight film takes a disturbingly downbeat turn, becoming a somber meditation on assisted suicide with a morally problematic ending which … will leave Catholic viewers emotionally against the ropes."

Aha! So the personal is political after all! This is the Christmas "gift" that the secularist, anti-Christian powers-that-be in Hollywood and the media decided to foist on the public during the Christmas holiday season!

A film about a failed Catholic who is such a moral weakling that he vanishes after he commits murder. A film that both Hollywood and the media have knowingly lied about in order to entice people into movie theaters so they can cringe at its unending blood and gore and experience not enlightenment but pity at the heroine’s fate and disgust at her trainer’s cowardice.

It's never about means, just ends. Mel Gibson''s similarly bloody means just served ends that Hollywood despises.

Pope Sees Frailties as Affirming Life (IAN FISHER , 2/05/05, NY Times)

For years, especially as he has grown frailer, John Paul has spoken about the value of old age, bestowing a special significance on that phase of life at a time when people, especially in the developed world, are living significantly longer lives. He has held himself up as an example of that, refusing to hide his quivering hands, his inability to walk, his weak and slurred speech.

Repeatedly in speeches and letters, he has explored the issues of aging, suffering and dying.

"It is important to speak of suffering and death in a way that dispels fear," he told hospice workers in Austria in 1998. "In our time, there is an urgent need for people who can revive this awareness."

In a letter he addressed to the elderly in 1999, he began, "As an older person myself ... ." He went on to describe the achievements of Moses. "It was not in his youth but in his old age that, at the Lord's command, he did mighty deeds on behalf of Israel," he wrote.

Last August, at one peak of concern about his health, he visited the shrine in Lourdes, France, to which millions of pilgrims go each year in hopes of miraculous cures, and made a rare direct mention of his own infirmities.

"With you I share a time of life marked by physical suffering, yet not for that reason any less fruitful in God's wondrous plan," were John Paul's words, though they were read by a French cardinal because the pope could not do so himself.

Some insist that this final stage of John Paul's papacy has its own deep importance in his 26 eventful years on the throne of Peter, imbuing it with a spiritual dimension, which, they argue, cuts to the essence of Christianity.

"Christianity exists precisely to give significance to suffering," said Vittorio Messori, an Italian writer who spent time with John Paul during their collaboration on the pope's 1994 book "Crossing the Threshold of Hope."

The pope now "offers his suffering as a testament," Mr. Messori said, "and that is more useful than having a young leader. Not that this pope was not useful when he was young, and he does have some trouble administering the church. Certainly many things that he used to do, his collaborators have to do now."

"But at the same time," he added, "Christians don't have a strong god. They have a poor man attached to a cross."

Jesus' suffering, in fact, has been evoked in comparison to the decline of Pope John Paul, in relation to whether he should retire.

"I think the people around him must tell him he should stop," an Orthodox leader told reporters during the pope's visit in 2002 to Bulgaria, at a time when his decline was especially noticeable. "He is suffering like Christ."

That same year, however, the pope drew the opposite lesson from Christ's suffering in response to questions about whether he was becoming too ill to continue.

"Christ did not come down from the cross," he said, by several accounts.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 5, 2005 6:32 AM

Give it a rest, OJ.

The story is tremendously inspiring and thought-provoking and if you ever actually watched someone deteriorate in front of your eyes instead of sitting on the sidelines, twiddling your beads and going tut-tut-tut at anything that goes against twaddle from the Curia, you might have a different perspective.

There are real people and real families out there, OJ, with real suffering who deal with the terminally-ill every day. My uncle and my father did something similar with their father three decades ago in Miami, rather than watch the doctors continue to lop pieces off of him. My grandfather insisted on them doing something to end his suffering. My mother's brother-in-law suffered from Alzheimers for the last decade of his life.


Posted by: Bart at February 5, 2005 8:46 AM


You've said repeatedly that anyone who inconveniences or annoys you should be killed--it's hardly surprising you want to be able to kill those whop most directly impact your pleasure.

Posted by: oj at February 5, 2005 9:41 AM

So, based solely on the title, once she's no longer worth a million, she's only fit for killing? But she's still a baby.

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 5, 2005 10:17 AM

Calm down Bart! The publicity for this movie is a cover-up and misleading. I felt hoodwinked. What I saw was not what I was led to believe I was going to see! Why wasn't "hollywood" honest about the thrust and message of this movie?

Posted by: Phil at February 5, 2005 10:30 AM

OJ, you are conflating two separate issues, but if it serves your cause...

The simple issue with respect to assisted suicide is who gets to make that decision. When the wishes of the person who would, if he/she could, kill herself are abundantly clear then those wishes should be followed. My parents, most of my family, in America and in France, including myself have 'living wills' which address this very issue. Our decision is clear. It is not your business, OJ, and it is certainly not the government's to intervene, superseding its morality on our own on what is a private matter.

If, in similar circumstances, you would choose differently, that is your business, not mine and again, certainly not the government's, even if keeping you on the respirator would 'waste' scarce medical resources usable on other patients.

Posted by: Bart at February 5, 2005 10:34 AM


Of course it's our business who you kill. Indeed, it's government's primary purpose to stop the strong from killing the weak.

Posted by: oj at February 5, 2005 11:21 AM

When someone asks someone else to kill him, it is not the government's business to intervene. That is something wholly separate from your position.

Posted by: Bart at February 5, 2005 12:00 PM

OJ -

How, fundamentally, do Dunn's actions here differ from Chief Bromden's in "Cuckoo's Nest"?

Posted by: ghostcat at February 5, 2005 12:22 PM

When someone asks someone else to kill him, it is not the government's business to intervene.

What if the person is merely depressed and isn't taking his meds? What if his children come to his bedside and ask him to "stop being such a burden on us"?

Thus the slippery slope to Dutch Doctors Investigated for Refusing to Perform Euthanisa.

Posted by: Gideon at February 5, 2005 2:47 PM


If you want to kill yourself who's stopping you? There's no jail time for suicide last I looked.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at February 5, 2005 2:58 PM


That is why we are supposed to have protections when we do things like draft living wills, and the relevant powers of attorney. Most normal people do understand the difference between being merely depressed and your reactions as the doctors take your leg and your kidney, cognizant that there is only a matter of time before other pieces need to go and then there'll be nothing left, but you'll spend the intervening time in pain and deep sadness because your formerly active life is no more. We went through that with my grandfather and got the advice of some rabbis on the matter, including a cousin who was the Jewish Chaplain at West Point at the time.

Also, who should make the decision? The family or people unrelated to the situation who have ideological axes to grind? My grandfather was the most decent man who ever lived and was loved unconditionally by his wife and his kids and his grandkids. Yet, a decision had to be made to pull the plug and my grandfather wanted the plug to be pulled. I know what we did was what my grandfather wanted and was in accord with our theology as lots smarter people than I am understand it. And that is the bottom line.

Thousands of other people are confronted with that decision every day. Why not give their views due deference rather than allowing the sectarian clowns to do it for us?


I'm not killing myself yet. And if I did have a choice as to how to go, I'd pick it to be a heart attack after a night with three beautiful Thai hookers, several bottles of Chateau Margaux and some Ossetra caviar with Dom Perignon. My fervent hope is that when I go, the last thing I experience is a big, wet doggie kiss from my Corgi.

Again, you know better. The question is what to do when you are in no position to act on your wants in this matter. Whose decision is it when you are incapable of exercising your free will? If you have made your intentions clear and your intentions are as clear as they can be, as Hilary Swank's character's were, why should those intentions not be heeded?

In circumstances similar to those of Hilary Swank's character, my intentions are clear(I've had notarized declarations and made numerous public statements to that effect) and nobody, not government and certainly not some boy-bonking prelate from a faith other than my own, has the right to intervene.

Posted by: Bart at February 5, 2005 3:30 PM


Well said.

What strikes me as particularly ironic is that the sectarians are insisting on the continued imposition of measures available only due to secular rational inquiry.

Because if those measures were not available, these people would have long since succumbed to God's plan.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at February 5, 2005 3:40 PM

The 'boy boinking prelate' interferes how? It's up to each of us. Anyone could take his own life. Creating the fantasy of some quadraplegic, bubble boy who has nothing but consciousness is imaginative and highly unlikely. Some believe that we are experiencing a process of de-sensitization toward the value of human life within our culture. The Pope believes that to be the case. How is he wrong? BTW, there is no ethical problem with 'pulling the plug' in the circumstance you describe.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at February 5, 2005 4:49 PM


I think I described our experience with my paternal grandfather in as much detail as is appropriate in a public forum. You have no idea how hard it was for my dad and my uncle(frankly I can only imagine it but a day doesn't go by where we all don't think of him and I can't even imagine what my dad and my uncle go through). That was no fantasy. My mother's sister observed a man, who ran a dairy farm with 300 cows, deteriorate so far that he didn't even remember her name and couldn't manage his bodily functions. Even the local Lutheran pastor(Wisconsin Synod) --she converted to Lutheranism when she married Eldon--felt that he should have been put out of his misery years earlier as he really sensed that he had lost so much of the man he had been.

If you don't think that assisted suicide is right, don't do it, don't have it done to you, don't do it to the ones you love, don't participate in it. However, those of us who have seen things which make us understand why there are times where it may be appropriate (and Million Dollar Baby is now the third time I have lost it emotionally while watching a movie, the other two are 'Best Years of Our Lives' and 'The Green Mile') have a different view.

This is a big world and there is room for different people to have different opinions on this issue. As I said in the thread about Holland, it would be inexcusable to force a physician to participate in an assisted suicide against his wishes. The rights of individuals to have their will carried out as expressed should be paramount.

A church that is stonewalling victims of rape committed by its employees who performed their crimes when in a supervisory role over young boys should refrain from moral hectoring, at least if the concept of basic decency still obtains. 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone' and all that.

Posted by: Bart at February 5, 2005 5:46 PM


Again with all consideration for the difficult and painful decisions faced by you and your family I am still having a difficult time understanding your point. Pulling the plug or bypassing technology needed to sustain a painful and futile physical existence at the end of ones life is perfectly understandable. Asking another individual to end your life without consequence to him is something else. Putting someone in such a position smacks more of cruelty and selfishness rather than an excercise in freedom.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at February 5, 2005 6:42 PM


If I say to someone I implicitly trust that I no longer want to go through the pain which I am currently suffering, all I am doing is asking him to put me out of my misery. If it came down to it, and I were phyiscally incapable of making a decision, my power of attorney is in the hands of my cousin, Wolfie, who is holds an endowed professorship at Cornell Medical School. In our society, we readily put little woofing guys to sleep. All that person is doing is carrying out my wishes. If I am on the respirator, etc and unable to express my desires, I would want someone there to be able to tell the staff that it's time to let go. And that staff should not be on the hook because they carry out my wishes.

Because of our experiences, we've hashed this out probably more than most people. My parents, my aunt and uncle and cousins, i.e. all the descendants of my paternal grandfather(the only dead one was killed on 9/11 and I'd really love to meet those A-holes, who claim that all the Jews knew about 9/11,in a phone booth with taped fists )have addressed the issue, intelligently and rationally.

Shouldn't that desire be respected?

Posted by: Bart at February 5, 2005 6:58 PM

If I were your pastor or rabbi, I would respect your wishes and I would hope to be privileged to be w/you and your family as you left this life for the arms of the One who created you.

Posted by: Dave W. at February 5, 2005 7:27 PM

Don't let the door hit you in the backside, Bart.

Posted by: joe shropshire at February 5, 2005 9:32 PM

"Assisted suicide" is an oxymoron. I worked at a nursing home in my youth. When someone wants to go, there really is no stopping them. Ken Kesey explains it well:


At the home I was priveleged to become a good friend of Gladys, who, after being diagnosed with ALS for 4 years, had both of her breasts removed when she was already unable to walk. She wanted to die for a while, but she got over it, and lived long enough to be teach an 18 year old punk a lesson or two about trancendence and selflessness. When she finally did give up, she went rather quickly.

Posted by: Ted Welter at February 6, 2005 1:19 AM


No it isn't. You can't make someone else your murderer. Kill yourself if you want.

Posted by: oj at February 6, 2005 8:18 AM


The Chief runs having committed a crime. If euthanists had to do time or face execution for what they do that would change matters, no?

Posted by: oj at February 6, 2005 8:37 AM


When you tell us your family members, who you inherit from and whose care yopu're off the hook for, wanted you to kill them, no one will believe you.

Living wills are written by healthy people who fear illness and despise the ill. As soon as folks are ill themselves their opinions change, though they do suffer bouts of depression, which those who want them dead can exploit.

Posted by: oj at February 6, 2005 8:41 AM

oj: That was precisely what I observed at the nursing home: life was valued more rather than less when it has been pared down to its essentials by time and fate. I witnessed the exploitation of (indeed, the encouragement of) depression as well by family members inconvenienced by grandpa's refusal to die, already.

Bart won't give us many details about his grandfather, which is fine, but one detail pertinent to the question of "assisted suicide" is why the person requires assistance.

Killing an Alzheimer's patient, on the other hand, has absolutely nothing to do with "putting someone out of their misery," and everything to do with the convenience (or squeamishness, or weakness, or whatever) of those doing the killing. Even at the last stages of the disease, the person enjoys eating ice cream or sitting in the sun as much as you or I (or at least I have no rational basis for believing otherwise).

Also, another story from the nursing home days: There was this woman with advanced Alzheimers (or alcoholic brain syndrome, or both--the diagnoses weren't precise until you did an autopsy) that I took care of for over a year, day shifts, night shifts, even shifts; feeding, bathing, dressing--and never once did I ever hear anything but gibberish and baby-like babbling or crying. She had to be restrained in her GeriChair because she would just flop herself onto the floor otherwise (saw the bloody results of this once when an idiot aid walked down the hall for some clean linens without restraining her).

Anyway, early one morning, at the end of the night shift's last rounds, I had to turn on the light to deal with the resident next to her. As soon as the light went on, Evelyn (not her real name) says, "Good morning! What a beautiful day." And then I said hello and she said how are you and when I said fine she slipped back into the babbling gibberish and I finished my work and turned off the lights and she went back to sleep. She died within the year, but I never heard any other recognizeble words come out of her mouth. Although her emotions were often decipherable through the babble, I never afterwords presumed what a so-called "vegetable" might be thinking.

Posted by: Ted Welter at February 6, 2005 2:42 PM