humans are not animals (details)

There is no good verb to go with “euthanasia.” Is euthanasia done? Given? Committed? People don’t “get euthanized.” Animals are euthanized — lab animals and pets.

When a pet or lab animal is “euthanized,” it is given a good death, the action considered humane. Of course, this same rationale does not transfer to humans. Humans are not animals. We decree, that humans should not behave like animals, nor be treated like animals. We know what we mean by that even if “behaving like animals” is not how animals behave. To “die like an animal” (not a pet) means being left to die, without care, without agency of any kind; or to be euthanized like a lab animal. Whether we declare an act to be bestial or humane is an expression of our moral stance toward that act.

The fact that euthanasia, when used in a human context, lacks a proper accompanying verb reveals an undecidedness of agency and of whether the one who is to die is active or passive, or both.

This piece was done for an exhibition about Euthanasia, at the Josephinum of the Medical Museum, Vienna.