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What's in a name

Alert readers noticed the goof in our editorial today, referring to Ben Franklin’s nom de plume as Silence Dogwood instead of Dogood.

I wanted to blame a too-quick finger on the mouse when the spellchecker suggested alternatives to the unrecognizable Dogood.

The writer who initiated the error says it had more to do with a fascination for a blooming dogwood tree in the neighborhood. Regardless, every editor who let the mistake go uncorrected — including me — shares the blame.

As far as I know, no one ever used Silence Dogwood for a pen name, but Monday’s error does have me thinking about what we chose to call things.

Our upcoming Community Conversation on the right to die sparked an internal debate on what terminology to use. Assisted suicide is loaded for some advocates. And death with dignity isn’t the way opponents would describe the measure.

We went with “right to die” as the closest to a neutral description we could think of, but the whole question is a good reminder how much language matters.

Of course, that’s nothing new to those who have aligned themselves with pro-life or pro-choice sides of the abortion debate.