So did slave owners.

De-personalize a certain class of human beings, and you can use, abuse or eliminate them however you choose.

That’s exactly what’s happening in the new civil rights movement
that covers the pre-born to the not-yet-dead. One of the strategies is
to change the language, including “diagnoses” like “persistent
vegetative state”. No one wants to think of a human being as a
vegetable.

Good. Don’t. Because no one is. Tell that to Jane Brody.

New York Times health columnist Jane Brody is coming
under fire for referring to Terri Schiavo as a vegetable in a recent
interview. The comment has one bioethicist upset — saying the term
neither confers the dignity and humanity patients deserve nor is
medically accurate.

Speaking to the need for elderly people and terminally ill patients
to begin planning for death, Brody told the Times that it is never to
early to begin considering end-of-life plans.

“You don’t have to be old. If you recall, Terri Schiavo was 26 when
she suffered a heart attack that deprived her brain of oxygen and left
her a living vegetable for 15 years, at great cost and trauma to her
family,” she said.

But Wesley J. Smith, a noted author and attorney, considers the
comments a catachresis and that the term “vegetable” is an offense
similar to racial slurs.

“Terri Schiavo was not a carrot or a turnip,” he responds. “She was
a human being with a profound cognitive disability. Calling her a “V”
demeans her and dehumanizes her moral worth as a human being–just as
the odious “N-word” does people with dark skin.”

“It should never be used among enlightened people. Indeed, we need
to grow as a culture so that anyone using it is treated with the same
disdain by polite society as we do now to anyone who uses the crude ‘N’
epithet,” he explains.

Right. This is the only way to change the culture. Apply reason and
logic without appealing to emotional arguments, hard as that can be.

I work with Terri Schiavo’s family, and I’m always amazed at how
composed they remain while tortured inside when they hear these ongoing
assaults on Terri, as well as all cognitively impaired human beings. They just keep on working to help inform and engage the culture on the health care issues we all face, in a heartbeat.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....