High School is the only public schoolrngroup of its kind in Utah so far, butrnGLSEN hopes a successful conclusionrnto its lihgation later this year will allowrnother gay/straight groups to blossomrnthroughout conservative Utah.rnMark Tooley is a research associate at thernInstitute on ReUgion and Democracy inrnWashington, D.C.rnLANGUAGErnAbortion and thernMurder of Meaningrnby William MurchisonrnSay what you mean,” the MarchrnHare advised Alice —a piece ofrncounsel imparted by writing teachers ofrnthe old school. But, as we know nowadays,rnsay-what-you-mean is a lot of oldfashionedrnbaloney. If we were to take itrnseriously, which of course we can’t (don’trnforget “mad as a March Hare”), we’d neverrnget anything done in politics or culture.rnPeople would see and, even worse,rnhear us. And that we just couldn’t have,rnparticularly while trying to alter socialrnpriorities and conceptions.rnThe fungibility and plasticity of languagernhas haunted stewards of Westernrnthought for a long time—at least sincernGeorge Orwell’s day, half a century ago.rn”Political language,” Orwell wrote in hisrnfamous essay, “Politics and the EnglishrnLanguage,” ” . . . is designed to make liesrnsound truthful and murder respectable,rnand to give an appearance of solidity tornpure wind.” To this end, “political languagernhas to consist largely of euphemism,rnquestion-begging and sheerrncloudy vagueness.”rnWelcome to the world of “choice” andrn”death with dignity,” a world in which arnwoman doesn’t abort a baby—instead,rnshe drives to a women’s “clinic,” where arn”health provider” “evacuates” the “productrnof conception.” To hear it, yournwould hardly know what goes on at thesernvenues.rnExcept that you do know. Everyonernthese days knows. Our society has maderna tacit covenant with death. It specifiesrnthat, provided Americans are not slappedrnin the face unnecessarily with graphicrnlanguage (“abortion,” “unborn baby,”rnetc.), they will say, and better still think,rnas little as possible about what happensrnwhen “health provider” meets “productrnof conception.”rn”Wliat you don’t know can’t hurt you,”rngoes the aphorism. This is where “sheerrncloudy vagueness” comes in handy. Extinctionrnof life? Doesn’t sound exactlyrnlike what would go on in a respectablern”woman’s clinic.”rnWe have had much experience withrneuphemism and verbal delicacy, thanksrnpartiy to our Victorian ancestors, who arernalleged to have had difiFiculties using thernword “leg” in conjunction with chairsrnand pianos. (The worst tales of Victorianrnsqueamishness strike me as improbablern—inventions for the putting down of arnpeople more notable than we are for dignity,rnindustry, and propriety. When yournsee these tales borne by the same sort ofrnfolk who invent “Victorian” substitutesrnthat serve their own purposes, you wonderrnall the more.)rnDeath does discombobulate. This humanrntruth should be acknowledged, becausernit is ancient and characteristic. Werndon’t die, we succumb, pass away, pack itrnin, turn up our toes. Myrtie, you will understand,rnmerely “losf her husband; sherndidn’t tearfully watch him sink lower, dayrnafter day, until he finally died of prostaterncancer. At worst, cancer “took,” notrnkilled, him. This tendency to look thernother way when Death barges throughrnthe unlocked door helps explain why funerals,rnover the past decade or so, havernevolved into “celebrations of life,” withrnsentimental recollections, bad poetry,rnand, always, the “Ode to Joy.” We don’trnlike, in the funerary context, calling arnspade a spade: perhaps remembering tornwhat purpose such a tool is put once thernmourners depart.rnThe modern era’s unease with theologyrnmakes it all the more susceptible tornaverted eyes at the gravesite. What if. . .rnwhat if.. . we don’t really .. .rnAll this explains only partly the modernrnproclivity to gloss over what happensrnin abortion clinics and will more andrnmore, it seems, take place in hospitalsrnand nursing homes, as the hopelessly illrn”shuffle off this mortal coil,” with governmentalrnpermission. There is a bureaucraticrninstinct to say things in the mostrnconvoluted and uninformative fashionrnpossible, but the bureaucratic instinctrnfeeds off the political instinct. Bureaucratsrnwork for politicians, do they not?rnSmall wonder they should take their cuesrnfrom politicians, elected or academic.rnThus, when the bodies of 54 abortedrnbabies were discovered a couple of yearsrnago in San Bernadino County, California,rnthe resultant autopsy report was, tornsay the least, absorbing. The coroner’srnjudgment: “Multiple containers withrnproducts of conception are consistentrnwith products of artificial termination ofrnpregnancies.”rnHere is one to ponder. No dead babiesrn—just products of conception, reorderedrnin their earthly journeys by thernartificial termination of pregnancy. Arnveritable shroud of words blocks the nearerrninspection. Through the folds of thernshroud, who can see arms, legs, faces?rnIronically, the coroner’s report speaks explicitlyrnof “facial features,” “upper extremities,”rn”internal organs,” and even anrn”empty stomach.” Let us get this straightrnnow—”products of conception” have “facialrnfeatures”? How human of them! Is itrnpossible we are dealing here with humans?rnStop that talk! All you’ll achieve, goingrnon so, is the sowing of confusion regardingrna very central constitutional right.rnThe right, not the exact forms in which itrnmay be applied, is all that should detainrnus. “Ignore that man behind the curtain,”rnbooms out a great voice. Sham andrnhumbuggery, of dimensions unimaginedrnby the Wizard of Oz, are our lot in thernabortion debate—such as it is.rnThe sham does more than conceal; itrndistorts. When the upstate New Yorkrnabortion “provider” Dr. Barnett Slepianrnwas shot dead by a sniper, the New YorkrnTimes limned him. Slepian had “attendedrnto women who for medical or personalrnreasons could not carry an embryo tornterm.” The still-unapprehended sniperrnwill likely find one day that St. Peter cottonsrnno more to homicide than to abortion.rnObserve meanwhile the delicacy ofrnthe portrait here: “Caring Man” —accordingrnto the headline—killed for “attendingrnto” women. Attending in whatrnmanner? The physicianly, of course.rnThere were these embryos, and —stoprnright there.rnEmbryos are pre-fetal. The Times isrnimplying that Dr. Slepian performedrnabortions only in the first trimester?rnEven if he did, that would violate thernJudeo-Christian understanding of lifernand when it begins. In fact, Slepian wasrnnot known for observing this exceedinglyrnfine distinction. He embraced, as he hadrnto for logical consistency, the modernrnwoman’s right to abort her unborn childrn46/CHRONICLESrnrnrn