THE BLOG
09/02/2014 02:32 am ET | Updated Nov 01, 2014

Controlling Language Controls the Euthanasia Debate

What happens when conservatives discover "political correctness?"

Recently the Discovery Institute, a front for creationist conservatives, posted a column complaining about the phrase "vegetable" being used to describe those who have lost cognitive functions.

They are using it in terms of Joan Rivers and what doctors may discover when they bring her out of the induced coma she has been in after suffering cardiac arrest. Discovery Institute even goes as far as calling it "the v word." I presume they think people in vegetative states find the term offensive. Discovery Institute may not realize "persistent vegetative state" and "permanent vegetative state" are terms used by physicians, not insults thrown around carelessly.

Discovery's Wesley J. Smith complains, "We need to stop using the v-word to describe our brothers and sisters with profound cognitive disabilities. That word is just as bigoted as the n-word for people of sub-Saharan African descent, the k-word for Jews, etc."

This is quite amazing. These people also claim "scientists" are "raving bigots" because they dismiss the theological view of creationism as unscientific. Discovery perpetuates the fraud that "creationism" is some sort of science and that this is merely a debate between two groups of scientists. Of course, the "creationists" just happen to all be religionists who base "science" on their faith.

Smith complains, "that so many have no compunction whatsoever using the hurtful and inaccurate v-word as an epithet to characterize the most defenseless among us.... Yet, it is just as demeaning to the intrinsic human dignity as racial and sexist slurs. We need some serious consciousness raising."

They falsely label a vegetative state as one of "profound cognitive disabilities." If by disability you mean all cognitive function is gone, it is one hell of a disability. It is on par with calling the dead "life impaired."

What's with this sudden concern for political correctness? They don't carry it through in other others areas. For instance, Jay Richards of Discovery has argued that the "institution of marriage" has individual rights itself -- and has to be protected from nasty gays about to infringe on the rights of this institution. "...You need to believe that the government is also going to recognize the rights and realities of this institution."

The "institution of marriage" has individual rights, but gay people don't.

What is really going on with this kerfuffle over "the v-word" is a campaign by the Religious Right to change the meaning of words, so as to smuggle into them their own agenda.

Jay Richards claimed he is defending "individual rights," while actually fighting them. Conservatives all across the fringes of the Far Right call themselves "libertarians," using libertarian-sounding terms to justify an anti-libertarian agenda.

The term "vegetative state" has to go, because the Religious Right fears it will cause people to consider whether people in that condition, who have lost cognitive abilities, are still human in any meaningful sense of the word. They have functioning bodies, but a body does not a human make. At the core of being human is the ability to choose, and the primary choice is to think or evade thinking. People in vegetative states can do neither.

This campaign for political correctness is not because they care about Joan Rivers, or anyone else in her situation -- the concern is about the state of her life AFTER her coma. Her family already said she doesn't want to be in a wheelchair or a bed, unable to live, except in the most limited of senses.

That has Discovery worried. They don't think any of us should have the right to end our life, or have it ended for us, when we reach the stage where meaningful life is impossible. They fail to distinguish between conditions. Plants are alive; people live! The former is a state of being, the latter purposeful action.

I have no idea about Ms. Rivers' condition. But, I can assure you the family is not anxious to pull the plug! These are very, very terribly difficult decisions. They are personal and private.

The family doesn't need religious groups inserting themselves into the discussion with a phony concern about politically correct terms. Discovery is NOT concerned about the feelings of people in various minority groups. They aren't concerned about "the v-word;" they are trying to control the debate by controlling language.

By equating someone in a vegetative state to one who is mentally disabled they wish to make discussion of euthanasia impossible. No one is suggesting that euthanasia be used willy-nilly, and perhaps guidelines are necessary. But Discovery doesn't want the topic discussed, they just want it illegal in all cases, no matter the circumstances.

I'm all for people controlling words they use to describe others -- especially when meant as insulting. I don't think "f*ggot" or "n*gger" appropriate, because those words have meanings and, more importantly, are backed by an intent to offend. They are MEANT as hate terms. "Vegetative state" is NOT meant as a hate term, even if Discovery thinks it an epithet. It is a descriptive term, not a judgmental one; it questions whether the person still exists.

Discovery Institute opposes choice when it comes to death, yet another disguised religious position. That's called "deception," not "concern."