Sunday, May 29, 2005

Dismembers Only

The Dallas Morning News, in an article titled "How Language is Framing the Stem Cell Debate," has taken to task Tom DeLay's characterization of embryonic stem cell research as the "dismemberment of living, distinct human beings."
Deborah Tannen, a Georgetown University linguistics professor, said that by using the word dismemberment, Mr. DeLay and others opposed to embryonic stem cell research are trying to associate it with the controversial late-term abortion, which critics also refer to as "partial-birth" abortion.
"That was such a successful campaign because it gave the impression that they were dismembering a child," Dr. Tannen said. "They are trying to create an association with babies, and they want to push it back earlier and earlier. I guess stem cells would be the extreme of that, but they're just cells. In order to dismember something, it has to have limbs, and cells don't have limbs."
The use of language and metaphor to frame these controversial debates is dissected (although not dismembered) by The Rockridge Institute, and in books such as George Lakoff's "Don't Think of an Elephant."

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