Those who spend their lives studying the brain are having to admit what nurses and pastors and loved ones have known for some time about the comatose and those said to be in a persistent vegetative state: be careful what you say because they hear and understand you!
Brain scans are showing that a number of those starved and dehydrated to death in hospitals across our nation today were thinking and responding to external stimuli in their minds as normal people do, but without the ability to move their bodies or communicate those responses. These souls hear and understand what you say to them, but they're powerless to demonstrate responsiveness. Thus foolish and cruel men claim these souls' lives are worthless and they murder them. This is why and how Terry Schiavo was murdered: the courts starved her to death.
But now neuroscientists and brain scans are showing us that a number of these men and women are perfectly responsive--as long as you know how to listen to them...
Smart people who talk loudly in restaurants using big words think that those who don't go to restaurants, or those who go to restaurants but talk softly, or those who go to restaurants and talk loudly but use small words, have lives not worth living. In other words, the chattering class defines personhood by the ability to chatter.
What are they going to do now that neuroscientists and scanners show them that the men and women, boys and girls they have murdered by robbing them of food and water are chattering after all--in their brain waves? Will all our brilliant ethicists now begin to take pity on them?
Somehow, I think not. All the intellectuals' cruel talk about interpersonal communication being the sine qua non of personhood was just a cover for offing those they resented for placing inordinate demands on our compassion.
Something about men speaking with the tongues of Peter Singer and Christian Medical and Dental Society and judicial review without love...
(w/thanks to Kamilla)