Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

When can we put these euphemisms to sleep?

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

A euphemism is a way of softening reality. Euphemisms have their place — when comforting a bereaved friend, to ease the blow of bad news, or to avoid deliberately hurting someone’s feelings. In such situations, euphemisms are a kindness. They prevent causing pain.

Using euphemisms to deceive the public into accepting what’s unacceptable — now that’s a different story.

Deception is a malignancy on our humanity. It comes from governments, private industry, people running for office — anyone with something to gain by lying. Because if you tell a lie long enough, loud enough and often enough, people will believe it.

The animal welfare industry has become adept at deceiving the public with euphemisms about the fate of adoptable animals. It’s a dispirited, institutional drumbeat message: healthy, adoptable animals are “euthanized” or “put down.”

With the exception of WRTV6 and Kara Kenney’s outstanding reporting of animal welfare issues in central Indiana and Patty Spitler’s heart-warming tales of these beautiful animals with Pet Pals TV, local media outlets have been hypnotized into joining the chorus. They repeat the lie that ending the life of a healthy adoptable animal is “euthanasia.”

Let’s look at the facts.

Euthanasia is defined as the act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, as by lethal injection or the suspension of extraordinary medical treatment.

It is NOT the act of ending a life because space is limited, or because someone has decided that life is inconvenient.

But wait — it gets worse

Redefining euthanasia is bad enough. But now, according to a press release from the Creative Department, an advertising/branding agency retained by the Humane Society of Indianapolis, “…IndyHumane Animal Welfare Center was created to decrease the number of euthanizing procedures on animals brought into the Humane Society’s locations around Indianapolis.”

Euthanizing procedures?? Wow — that moves it one step farther from the reality of killing, doesn’t it? Just another routine “procedure”.

We’re a lot more comfortable with a procedure. The medical profession and the insurance companies have already paved the way for that. We no longer have surgery; we have “medical procedures”.

Everything’s going to be just fine.

People perpetuating this euthanasia euphemism want to be comfortable. And maybe that’s the problem. Killing animals makes us uncomfortable. We don’t want to make anybody uncomfortable. So instead of confronting and solving the problem, we modify the vocabulary so it sounds acceptable. We clean up the reality.

But that doesn’t change it.

Into the weeds

By trying to hang a new definition on the word euthanasia, some perpetrators of this deception have put themselves in an awkward position. Take for example this statement from IndyHumane’s website:

“The Humane Society of Indianapolis offers dog and cat euthanasia services to the community by appointment for pets who are suffering and terminally ill.”

Wait a minute. The IndyHumane Animal Welfare Center was created to decrease its euthanasia service? A service that offers a merciful death for suffering and terminally ill animals?


The challenge of honesty

Are we repeating the “euthanasia” mantra to shield ourselves from the painful reality of these animals’ fate? What is it costing our personal integrity, not to mention the welfare of the animals for whom we profess to advocate? Do we say what we mean and mean what we say? Or do we just declare that we’re telling the truth….until we believe we are?

“We tell the truth, even when it may be painful.”

“We don’t put animals down for space – animals are only euthanized due to major medical concerns or severe behavior and aggression problems.”

People lie for a lot of reasons. Says Robin Lloyd in “Why We Lie”
“ It boils down to the shifting sands of the self and trying to look good both to ourselves and others, experts say.

It’s tied in with self-esteem.”

Animals, however, don’t lie. They are brutally honest in their expression. Only the human animal is capable of lying and deceit.

We have a lot to learn from animals. Are we listening?

It’s time to arouse our sleeping integrity and speak honestly about what we do to adoptable animals. Only by facing that ugly reality can we hope to change it.