By Wesley J. Smith
Was it Eldridge Cleaver who said that he who controls the definitions, wins the debate? I seem to recall reading that in Soul on Ice.
Cleaver or no, the assisted suicide advocacy group Hemlock Society Compassion and Choices has spent years blurring definitions and redefining terms–with the active compliance of the media.
Now, assisted suicide–a descriptive term that means helping someone take their own life–has been redefined to the euphemistic “aid in dying,” or “death with dignity.” From the Albany Democrat Herald story, entitled–get this–“Terminology Associated With the Death With Dignity Act” compiled by Compassion and Choices:
The following information about terminology related to the Death with Dignity Act was compiled by the nonprofit Compassion & Choices of Oregon (www.compassionoforegon.org): “Death-with-Dignity” and “Aid in Dying” are not “Assisted Suicide” As the public and policymakers discuss end-of-life options, it is critical to describe accurately the medical option of terminally ill people self-administering prescribed medicine to shorten a dying process they find unbearable. “Aid in dying” is the most neutral term to describe what advocates call “death with dignity” and opponents call “assisted suicide.”
What. A. Crock.
If someone who is depressed because his daughter has died is helped with suicide, or if someone kills herself because she has cancer–it is suicide. If someone helps, it is assisted suicide. Descriptive!
Wait, there’s more:
Patients who choose aid in dying find the suggestion that they are committing “suicide” deeply offensive, stigmatizing and inaccurate. Many of them have publicly expressed that the term is hurtful and derogatory to them and their loved ones.
What people might feel about an accurate term doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be used. How can we have a reasoned policy debated founded in intellectual integrity if we refuse to use accurate terminology? We can’t. Indeed, intellectual integrity is the last thing wanted by assisted suicide advocates.
Derek Humphry, founder of the Hemlock Society, doesn’t even go in for this word corruption, writing in a letter to the editor (my emphasis):
As the author of four books on the right to choose to die, including “Final Exit,” I find the vacillation by the Department of Human Services (Register-Guard, Oct. 23) on how to describe the lawful act of a physician helping a terminally ill person to die by handing them a lethal overdose, which they can choose to drink (or not), an affront to the English language.
’Physician’ means a licensed M.D.; ‘assisted’ means helping; and ’suicide’ means deliberately ending life. The department’s cop-out choice of the words “death with dignity” is wildly ambiguous and means anything you want. Let’s stick to the English language and in this matter call a spade a spade. DEREK HUMPHRY”
That is the only time I have ever agreed with Derek Humphry
Democrat Herald just published an advocacy organization’s advocacy, as if it were objective news.
On this and so many other issues of our day, media don’t do journalism, they simply repeat advocacy group propaganda.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Wesley’s fine blog.