Monday, February 9, 2009

Save the boobs: a word on semantics

I listen to the radio while at work, and several times a day I hear a commercial for a fund raiser for breast cancer. I think it's the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure or something. Same concept as the Rabies fun run on The Office I think.

Commercials as a rule are annoying, and this one is no exception. The commercial is a series of sound bytes from participants about why they are participating, and how the walk makes a difference in the fight against breast cancer.

One quote in particular just gets me. She says something to the effect that by participating in the event, she and others are uniting to "speak out against breast cancer in the most meaningful way possible."

Clearly all cancer sucks. Breast cancer is no exception. I think these fundraisers are fantastic, and the money raised is crucial to further research in fighting the disease. But you don't "speak out" against breast cancer. You speak out against things with a moral compass, namely people.

For example, you speak out against domestic abuse or abortion. These actions are not ok, and the people who commit them are wrong to do so and must be held accountable. Breast cancer doesn't care what you think of it, it's not a person. It's like condemning a tornado or hurricane. I'm surprised politicians don't do it.

Of course this is not an important issue. I assume that the woman who made the comment (more precisely was likely told to make the comment by the people recording her) more likely meant that this event raises awareness or demonstrates intentionality about finding a cure. But when it comes to "speaking out" against breast cancer, you're preaching to the choir.

In my case, approximately ten times per day.

Stupid radio. I need an IPod.


Jordan said...

You raise an interesting point. I'm going to speak out against stubbing my toe.

I think the woman's response displays her naivete. She really thinks she's doing something great. Personally, I don't think the money raised does anything to help the cause. If the money came to my account, my depravity would tell me to perpetuate cancer so there would be more fundraisers so I could get even more money. Have we really seen any advancements from these fundraisers?

Josh Koehn said...

Perhaps. I don't know enough about those kinds of things to comment. It seems to me pretty significant advances in cancer research have been made in recent years. But I am also sure that there is greed involved.

But my depravity would also enjoy the fame that would accompany curing cancer.

The real point is that people sometimes choose very strong words that are completely meaningless.