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3/24/05 Schiavo case redefining the language of politics

By Palm Beach Post Columnist Frank Cerabino

The battle over keeping Terri Schiavo's feeding tube in place, in this, her 16th year in a vegetative state, has created a new political paradigm here in Florida, as well as America.

Many old definitions, rallying cries and fighting words have had to be scrapped, or at least ignored, until further notice.

And ground rules for engagement with the enemy need to be reevaluated until the Schiavo case is firmly behind us. So for the time being, please tread carefully, and consider the following definitional shifts:

State's rights An antiquated concept stressed during an era when Republicans didn't control the White House, both houses of the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. Supreme Court. State's rights are no longer necessary, especially in Florida which should have learned its lesson five years ago.

Rule of law A once-popular American value which has now been relegated, solely as an export, to unwilling foreign countries. Domestically, the rule of law has been replaced by "erring on the side of life."

Life Something guaranteed only to fetuses and people who are at death's door. People who are actually born and sentient, however, are subject to exploratory wars, deregulation of toxic pollutants, capital punishment and the philosophy that health care is a costly "entitlement" program that needs serious trimming in order to preserve and expand tax cuts on investment income.

Conservative Used to be somebody who thought most forms of government involvement produced more harm than good. Now, only applies to business regulation.

Liberal Replace "bleeding-heart" with "killer."

The right to privacy Go easy on this one. For the time being, it is superceded by The Power of Prayer.

Activist judges This used to be a pejorative term to describe any judge who insisted on the separation of church and state or was willing to cut against the grain of institutionalized prejudices against gay people. However, now that Schiavo's fate may rely on some judges getting creatively active, this adjective will no longer be used to denigrate judges we don't like.

Persistent vegetative state Vibrant.

It's OK to heed the pope again The Vatican is a vocal supporter of keeping Schiavo alive. This will come as a great relief to some who have had to delicately ignore the Vatican on its denunciation of the war in Iraq.

Sen. Bill Frist Until further notice, he will be referred to as "Dr. Bill Frist", a physician/legislator who specializes in videotape diagnoses of people who might further improve his viability as a future presidential candidate.

Special interest group A term that must only be used to describe feminists, civil libertarians, environmentalists, and other blue-state whiners. Christian zealots must never be marginalized by this term. They shall instead be elevated with the title "values voters" or "people of faith."

Sanctity of marriage Put this expression on the shelf for a while. If the wishes of Michael Schiavo, the husband and legal surrogate of his wife, were sanctified as a controlling authority, there wouldn't be a political football for Tallahassee and Washington to pounce on.

Unconstitutional law Used to be an indication of poor governance. But now it's an intentional legal blunder you rush to pass often in exuberant emergency sessions in an effort to impress values voters.

Source: Palm Beach Post


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