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Examining Metaphors in Biopolitical Discourse
Unformatted Document Text:  Metaphors in Biopolitics, page 28 Other polls incorporated the word “vegetable” in question wording. About 73 percent of Americans polled in 2005 said they worried a great deal or somewhat about the “possibility of being vegetable-like” (Saad, 2005 March 29). In a study of four different 2005 polls, “Hotline,” a publication of the National Journal Group (a nonpartisan organization that reports on policy), noted that Americans were more likely to favor the right to die (between 74 and 87 percent agreed) if the question wording included removal of “life support” (rather than “feeding tube”) (“Schiavo surveys,” 29 March 2005). Pundits also presented the metaphors in visual space. For example, Daryl Cagle drew a cartoon for MSNBC that mocked Senator Bill Frist, who argued that Terri Schiavo did not appear to be in a vegetative state. The cartoon depicts Frist facing an audience, his arms extended, asking “What do I know about vegetables?” Frist is surrounded by flying radishes, melons and bananas, some smashed against a wall behind him. The caption underneath the cartoon repeats Frist’s public statement: “That footage, to me, depicted something different than persistent vegetative state” (Cagle, 21 June 2005). In our view, vegetative and vegetable are easily conflated, judging from discourse and opinion polls. The term vegetative state might serve as an under-the-radar metaphor in generating thoughts and feelings associated with “human-as-vegetable.” Vegetative state may very well activate schemas and associated simulations of thoughts, emotions and other perceptions that contradict being human: vegetables lack brains, feelings and emotions. In that respect, we argue that vegetative state delimits rich entailments. It is not surprising, therefore, that when asked their feelings about being in a “vegetable-like state” three-quarters of those polled prefer death. Death tax. Our final exemplar brings to bear what Negri called “the extension of the economic and political contradiction over the entire social fabric” wrapped within

Authors: Coleman, Cynthia-Lou. and Ritchie, L. David.
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Metaphors in Biopolitics, page 
28
Other polls incorporated the word “vegetable” in question wording. About 73 
percent of Americans polled in 2005 said they worried a great deal or somewhat about 
the “possibility of being vegetable-like” (Saad, 2005 March 29). In a study of four 
different 2005 polls, “Hotline,” a publication of the National Journal Group (a nonpartisan 
organization that reports on policy), noted that Americans were more likely to favor the 
right to die (between 74 and 87 percent agreed) if the question wording included 
removal of “life support” (rather than “feeding tube”) (“Schiavo surveys,” 29 March 
2005). 
Pundits also presented the metaphors in visual space. For example, Daryl Cagle 
drew a cartoon for MSNBC that mocked Senator Bill Frist, who argued that Terri Schiavo 
did not appear to be in a vegetative state. The cartoon depicts Frist facing an audience, 
his arms extended, asking “What do I know about vegetables?” Frist is surrounded by 
flying radishes, melons and bananas, some smashed against a wall behind him. The 
caption underneath the cartoon repeats Frist’s public statement: “That footage, to me, 
depicted something different than persistent vegetative state” (Cagle, 21 June 2005). 
In our view, vegetative and vegetable are easily conflated, judging from discourse 
and opinion polls. The term vegetative state might serve as an under-the-radar 
metaphor in generating thoughts and feelings associated with “human-as-vegetable.” 
Vegetative state may very well activate schemas and associated simulations of 
thoughts, emotions and other perceptions that contradict being human: vegetables lack 
brains, feelings and emotions. In that respect, we argue that vegetative state delimits 
rich entailments. It is not surprising, therefore, that when asked their feelings about 
being in a “vegetable-like state” three-quarters of those polled prefer death. 
Death tax. Our final exemplar brings to bear what Negri called “the extension of 
the economic and political contradiction over the entire social fabric” wrapped within 


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