Remember Terri Schiavo? Well, the “experts” told us she was brain-dead while her family sensed she wasn’t. I just finished reading “The Brain That Changes Itself” so I’m now even more on the side of her family.
You might find this interesting reading: ‘Brain dead’ Quebec woman wakes up after family refuses organ donation.
It made me think of the Chicago Tribune writer John Kass’ best column ever:
March 24, 2005
By John Kass
I’ve been searching for the right word to describe what is happening to Terri Schiavo, a word that has some real blood to it.
It’s important to find the right word now, because, by the time you read this, the severely brain-damaged woman might be dead.
Perhaps you’ve noticed other bloodless words being flipped at her, words like “viability” and phrases like “pull the plug.”
These words were once the issue of bloodless people, of clerks and sophists who can prove almost anything with their fine arguments. The rest of us have fed on them until they shape how we think, shaping our options, shaping our future.
Some of the more fascinating bureaucratic words involving Schiavo include “viability,” which suggests that a human being is going to die. Another is “fetus,” a particularly cold word used when what we’re talking about is a warm baby in a mother’s womb.
But fetus is the legal word, part of American law, and so reflects the accepted American attitude. A bureaucrat recently used it while talking to his employee, my sister-in-law, who is expecting her first child. She told him she’d take some time off after the birth. He turned to her and said: “Well, I’m sure you’ll do what’s best for you and the fetus.” How legal. How bureaucratically correct. How fine. He probably doesn’t realize that he has been transformed into an insect.
So let’s not cheapen this by avoiding what is happening to Terri Schiavo. Let’s use a real word, the kind of word that repels the bureaucrat in each of us, not some insect’s word, but an ugly word that stands on two feet, a word of consequence, a word with some real blood to it: