Many of you know exactly what I mean, but for those of you shaking your head and wondering exactly what the hell I'm talking about, you obviously missed the title. Yes, I'm talking about the article about Jahi McMath in The New Yorker magazine titled "What Does it Mean to Die". In case you haven't read it, click the link, read it, and then come back.
No seriously, go read it. Yeah yeah yeah, I know it's long! JUST READ IT.
If you're anything like me, the first thing you noticed was the pictures. There aren't many, but there is one very-obviously-posed picture of Jahi looking quite bloated though peaceful in her bed covered by an "I believe in Miracles" blanket, her mother leaning in talking to her, her step-father looking on and smiling, and her little sister peering in through the doorway.
Give me a break.
Much more striking than how Jahi looks is the overriding racial overtones that are pervasive throughout. The article starts with this little tidbit from Jahi's mother Nailah in the fourth paragraph:
It is commonly believed that the concept of brain death (BD) evolved to benefit organ transplantation. Nonetheless, a historical approach to this issue will demonstrate that both had an entirely separate origin. Organ transplantation was developed thanks to technical advances in surgery and immunosuppressive treatment. Meanwhile, the BD concept was developed thanks to the development of intensive care techniques.Later the article explains how Jahi has supposedly developed the ability to move her hand and foot in response to verbal commands. This claim is based on a series of videos that have been corroborated by exactly no one, yet they somehow have convinced neurologist Alan Shewmon to declare that she no longer meets brain death criteria. What the article fails to mention is that Jahi had brainstem auditory evoked potentials performed back in September of 2014, which revealed that there was no auditory pathway, making it therefore an anatomic impossibility for her to hear anything. She simply has no neural pathways that can allow her to hear the commands to which she is supposedly responding. This hearkens back to the Terry Shiavo case, where her parents insisted that she could see them and respond to them, but an autopsy later revealed that her visual cortex had been destroyed, rendering her completely blind.
Just like with Jahi, Terri's parents had "video evidence". Just like with Jahi, Terri's parents believed that Terri was interacting with them. And just like with Jahi, Terri's parents were wrong. What you can't see in Jahi's video clips (but can with Terri's) is the presumably hours and hours of footage it took for Nailah to get these cherry-picked video clips. I have no doubt that Nailah saw Jahi twitching her hand and foot and recorded as much footage as she needed to get exactly what she wanted. There is an excellent explanation here about why we have no reason to believe these videos.
However, the part of the article that caused me to groan the most was this:
Of all the things that have never ever happened, this never happened the most.