My friend, Wesley J. Smith

by JHS, Esq.

Have you heard of Wesley J. Smith? If not, you need to head over to his website and get to know him because doing so will enrich your life.

I didn’t always feel that way about Wesley. In fact, during the first 6 months or so that I knew him, I thought he was insane and destined to be the bane of my existence.

I met him for the first time during the initial hearing in the Wendland case. That was September 11, 1995. The day is burned in my memory because I was in a daze. I had been a lawyer for “about 5 minutes” but there I was involved in a case dealing with life vs. death.

I think I actually spoke to Wesley on the phone a couple of times before I met him that day in Stockton. He was intense. He was in my face. He was wound up, agitated. And he was telling me things I definitely did not want to hear about the culture of death in this country, the players on the other side of the Wendland case, what was motivating them, etc. He was doing so lovingly, but he was very clear: “Janie, you are now awake and you can never go back to sleep again.”

I really haven’t had a good night’s sleep since I met Wesley.

He immediately began writing about the Wendland case & his writing was nothing short of brilliant. His writings contributed to the media’s interest in the case and the dialogue that was taking place. It was nothing compared to the Schiavo controversy, but it was big stuff happening here in the sleepy little village of Lodi. People around here weren’t used to seeing the crew of a nationally broadcast network news show setting up for a live feed from in front of the local hospital.

Before you knew it, Wesley and I were fast friends and we remain so. He became my confidante, mentor, spiritual adviser, and all-purpose cheerleader. When I thought I couldn’t handle the pressure, he convinced me I could. When I was depressed, he cheered me up. When I wanted to really tell people on the other side of the case what I thought of them and their tactics, he talked me out of it. When I ran out of things to say to the media, he told me what to say and how to say it. When I ran out of legal strategies, he suggested yet another. When he couldn’t be present in the courtroom, he prayed with me on my cell phone as I drove to the courthouse. And when he was in the courtroom, it was his face I turned and looked for in the crowd from my chair at the counsel table when I had moments of doubt because I knew he would reassure me.

When Robert Wendland died, he comforted me. And he participated in the modest memorial service we organized in the public park for Robert, delivering the most moving tribute I have ever heard at such an event.

He enlisted cloistered nuns to pray for Robert Wendland and all involved in the case. He wasn’t even Catholic, but he knew how to contact cloistered nuns! I was amazed.

He once told me that he tried to explain our relationship to those nuns, but they didn’t understand his analogy. Turns out they don’t watch movies, so they hadn’t seen “Rocky” and didn’t appreciate his explanation of our relationship: “I’m Mickey and she’s Rocky.”

Wesley has been writing insightfully and brilliantly about Terri Schiavo for years now. Today, he and his friend & co-author, Ralph Nader, issued a call to the Florida Courts, Gov. Bush and Concerned Citizens to Take any Legal Action Available to let Schiavo Live. In their joint statement, they say:

The courts not only are refusing her tube feeding, but have ordered that no attempts be made to provide her water or food by mouth. Terri swallows her own saliva. Spoon feeding is not medical treatment. “This outrageous order proves that the courts are not merely permitting medical treatment to be withheld, it has ordered her to be made dead,” Nader and Smith assert.

The medical and rehabilitation experts are split on whether Terri is in a persistent vegetative state or whether Terri can be improved with therapy. There is only one way to know for sure- permit the therapy. That is the only way to resolve all
doubts.

The court is imposing process over justice. After the first trial in this case, much evidence has been produced that should allow for a new trial-which was the point of the hasty federal legislation. If this were a death penalty case, this evidence would demand reconsideration. Yet, an innocent disabled woman is receiving less justice.

The federal and state governments are spending billions on what we are told will become miracle medical cures for people with all sorts of degenerative conditions, including brain damage. If this is so, why not permit Terri’s parents and siblings who want to care for her do so in the hope that such cures are discovered?

Benefits of doubts should be given to life, not hastened death. This case is rife with doubt. Justice demands that Terri be permitted to live.

Thank you, Wesley.

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