Human Exceptionalism

Another Media Failure to Get Basic Terms Right

The Italian Supreme Court is going to hear a case about whether a patient should have the right to refuse unwanted life-sustaining medical treatment (a matter already settled in the United States). This isn’t euthanasia, as currently understood, which involves the active mercy killing of patients. Yet, several news outlets described the Italian case as being about euthanasia. This can only sow confusion.

Proper ethical analysis requires a clear understanding of the issues involved, which in turn, requires the proper use of language and accurate definitions. Yet, whether it is about issues involving end of life concerns, cloning, embryonic stem cell research, or other such issues, the media repeatedly and blatantly fail society in fulfilling this important, yet basic, task.


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