In cyberspace, where anybody who cares to listen can hear you scream, the question of whether Terri Schiavo (search) should live or die has spawned an endless shouting match.
People who are passionate about maintaining Schiavo's life support have set up dozens of Internet sites, and the authors of Web logs dedicated to law, religion, ethics and politics are dissecting every aspect the case.
Blogs themselves are nothing new — the contemporary equivalent of letters to the editor or debates around the office water cooler. But cases like Schiavo's evoke the broadest range of public commentary on the Internet (search).
Some bloggers have a related agenda, such as support for the rights of the disabled or opposition to euthanasia (search). But many more simply want their voices heard in the public realm.
"Terri's situation is important, not only because of her precious life," writes Dory Zinkand, who identifies herself as "a 40-something wife and mother," on her blog, Wittenberg Gate. "The truth is, many people are killed because someone decides their life would not be worth living."
On JollyBlogger (search), maintained by Maryland minister David Wayne, a correspondent who calls himself "Public Theologian" presents a strictly pragmatic view:
"The overwhelming evidence is that she is not going to get any better. This business about her communicating verbally is bunk — her physicians have testified repeatedly that this is not the case. If she could do this there would be no question in the matter — the courts would simply ask her what she wanted. Her husband has the right, as next of kin, to make her health care decisions for her. Tampering with this right by conservatives will undo centuries of legal precedent by taking that out of the hands of families ..."
Some blogs repeat unproven accusations that Michael Schiavo may have caused the injury that put his wife in a vegetative state. Other posts speculate that both sides have financial motives. There is a distinct mistrust of authority in the Schiavo blogosphere.
A blog called "Attempted Murder" is dedicated to "exposing the lies of the media, judges and elected officials who are attempting to cover up the attempted murder of Terri Schiavo."
Meanwhile, the proprietors of "blawgs," so labeled for their legal themes, offer an attorney's viewpoint.
"Trials like this, where someone's life may literally be on the line, are held every day," Florida attorney Matt Conigliaro wrote on his site, Abstract Appeal. Schiavo's husband and the parents made their best case, and the courts determined "the evidence was clear and convincing that Terri would choose not to continue living by the affirmative intervention of modern medicine."
While attorney bloggers generally expect that the trial court decision's to remove her feeding tube will stand, a majority of blog commentators express outrage that society would allow a person to die when medical technology is available to sustain her life.
That puts them at odds with public opinion surveys conducted over the weekend, which found a majority of Americans opposed federal intervention in the Schiavo case — but, of course, bloggers have a take on that, too.
"Polls by so-called 'polling experts' are almost always biased. I have never and will never participate in such a poll," Rick Allen writes on BlogsforTerri.