By Wesley J. Smith
Whatever the future holds for Joan Rivers, who may have experienced brain damage during surgery, she will always be an exceptional human being deserving of equal rights and perceived moral value.
To put it another way, contrary to some stories describing her potential health outcome, she will never be a carrot. Carrots are vegetables, human beings never are.
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 or the K word for Jews. From my piece, “That Unrepentant Bigotry:”
Many of our brothers and sisters remain the victims of a pervasive but nearly invisible bigotry—and indeed subjected continually to profoundly demeaning and hateful characterizations—mostly without social protest, cultural opprobrium, or even notice by the usual enforcers of cultural comity. Indeed, the ‘hate speakers’ may even be applauded or their denigration either not noticed or ignored, perhaps because the denigrators are often themselves unaware”e that they have engaged in hurtful rhetoric. …
So, who are these despised unfortunates? People with profound cognitive disabilities and catastrophically debilitating diseases, against whom it remains respectable to employ profoundly demeaning descriptive, both in public discourse, public policy advocacy, and private conversation.
I am often amazed that in a time when a football team is pressured from the highest levels of political leadership and ubiquitously in the media to change its name because it is offensive to Native Americans, that so many have no compunction whatsoever using the hurtful and inaccurate V-word 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.
Editor’s note. This is excerpted from a post that appeared on Wesley’s fine blog.