Posts Tagged ‘language’
Via Expat Yank, the BBC reports that more parents in the UK are ‘keeping’ babies with Down Syndrome. The article was part of a lead-up to a BBC Radio documentary called Born with Down’s. (If you don’t know already, I’m not fond of the way “keeping your baby” has come to mean deciding whether to kill the child, instead of weighing whether to seek parents willing to adopt.)
In the Expat Yank post linked above, Robert links to a September 6, 2008, post of his that looked at Gloria Steinem’s take on Sarah Palin, hunting, and abortion. An excerpt:
However, overlooking just for the moment our standard euphemisms such as “procedure” and the submerging of it into her own coined term “reproductive freedom,” because, in the end, the ultimate outcome in both cases is precisely the same, we find outselves in a remarkable place: the killing of wolves and bears obviously morally infuriates and disgusts Ms Steinem a great deal more than does the killing of pre-born human babies.
And remember the killings of those latter doesn’t even usually involve shooting at them from low-flying helicopters. A hunter can at least miss from up there. But pre-borns killed in a controlled, clinical environment lack even that narrow window of possible escape.
Well, yes. Wombs are supposed to be uncommonly safe places, but they do serve as traps in the case of abortions.
James M. Kushiner has noticed that “Many of the biggest successes in the culture of death’s campaign have been the redefinition of words or the use of words to obscure truths.” In A Crying “Vegetable”?, he takes issue with the use of “persisent vegetative state”. He uses the Lauren Richardson case as an example. He also says, “to return to my question about words, what should we call this current state of mind among doctors and judges: Persistent Vegetative Conscience?” (I’m not sure I’m willing to go exactly there, but I do see his point.) For more on the misuse of words, and how it muddies thought, see Defending words in the political vocabulary.
…We need to be very forceful in defending what the words in our political vocabulary really mean. Words are important because they shape our thinking, and our thinking drives our actions. When we subvert the meaning of words like ”the common good” or ”conscience” or ”community” or ”family,” we undermine the language that sustains our thinking about the law. Dishonest language leads to dishonest debate and bad laws.
Here’s an example. We need to remember that tolerance is not a Christian virtue, and it’s never an end in itself. In fact, tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of evil. Likewise, democratic pluralism does not mean that Catholics should be quiet in public about serious moral issues because of some misguided sense of good manners. A healthy democracy requires vigorous moral debate to survive. Real pluralism demands that people of strong beliefs will advance their convictions in the public square – peacefully, legally and respectfully, but energetically and without embarrassment. Anything less is bad citizenship and a form of theft from the public conversation.
He’s Catholic. I’m not. But we’re in agreement on this. Definitely. And I thank him for putting it so well.
In the previous post, I took on the misuse of “keeping your baby”. What other words or phrases should we watch out for because they’ve become muddy or misleading?
A few years ago, when my husband told me that an unmarried, often-feuding, financially-strapped couple we know had become pregnant, the first words out of my mouth were a worried “They’re going to keep the baby, aren’t they?”
And then it hit me. I had become part of the problem. Read the rest of this entry »