animals are not humans (details)

Euthanasia does not really have a verb that goes with it. Is euthanasia done? Given? It can be requested or sought out. But then, what happens? After it’s been requested? Does it get committed, as in “committing suicide?” People don’t “get euthanized.” Animals are euthanized — lab animals and pets.

When we “euthanize” a pet or lab animal, we feel that our action is 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 though behaving “like animals” is not how animals behave). To die like an animal (not like 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 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.