“Euphemisms as Political Manipulation”

QuicktakeWesley Smith, writing at First Things:

Today assisted suicide is described almost exclusively through euphemism, especially in media coverage. The most prominent phrase is “death with dignity.” Several years ago, Compassion and Choices began a campaign to convince reporters not to use the word “suicide” to describe a terminally ill person’s deliberate use of a lethal prescription of drugs. The word “suicide,” Compassion and Choices scolded, is “biased” and steeped in “value judgment.” Worse, in the group’s view, it carries a “social stigma,” causing readers to “be misled.” In contrast, the group claimed that “aid in dying” is “value neutral” since it is undertaken by terminally ill people who take “medication”—another euphemism in this context—who don’t want to die but merely “shorten their dying process.”

The assisted suicide movement certainly isn’t alone in deploying euphemisms as a political tactic. We all have examples we can name. The “right to an abortion,” rarely used, would be accurate. The ubiquitous “right to choose” and that sound bite of all sound bites, “choice,” are inaccurate because their intent is to hide the subject of the decision. Similarly, the New York Times recently referred to babies who survived late-term abortion—only to be murdered by the abortionist Kermit Gosnell—as “fetuses,” even though there is no such thing as a born fetus.

Read the whole thing.

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