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LETTER: Measure 1 confusion starts with careless grammar

Know how you’re voting on Measure 1? It’s the grammar of Measure 1 that’s a problem, not just the ambiguous words.

Look at it again: “The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.” Look especially at the verbs: “must be recognized and protected.”

The verbs are what English teachers call passive voice, rather than active voice verbs. Passive voice verbs have no stated subjects. That’s what “must be recognized and protected” lacks: a subject, or subjects. Who will do what the verbs say?

Like saying, “The lion must be fed” -- who must do the feeding? Other questions wait for the answer to that question. Then one can ask, How to feed the lion? When? By what means?

Until there is a subject in sentences, nothing can be clearly understood.

The same with Measure 1. Who “must recognize,” and who “must protect”? Will those subjects be medical experts or officers of the law, legal beagles or family and friends? Since the subjects of the verbs are not identified, one must assume a subject. That leads to a conclusion that the subject in this case could be The State.

In other words, if the agent — the subject — doing the “recognizing” and “protecting” is the state, the process could end up being an attack on personal freedoms and privacy.

Poor conclusion? Bad law? All because of a careless grammar.

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