I am so sick of this phrase that I want to puke.
I was just reading a story from the New York Times about the effect the Terri Schiavo case may have on American law. Here's the last two paragraphs:
'Some medical ethicists say they are horrified. R. Alta Charo, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin, foresees a chilling effect [emphasis added] on hospitals and doctors, who may become uncomfortable carrying out a patient's wishes against the backdrop of a family feud. Professor Charo said there was no way for lawmakers to predict all the permutations that play into decisions on death and dying.
"If you go back to Cruzan, the presumption was in favor of extending biological life," she said. "Over the last 30 years, the presumption has slowly shifted toward allowing people to die. What we are seeing is the counterinsurgency."'
(Note the use of the word 'counterinsurgency' used to equate those who opposed the decision to starve Terri Schiavo to death with terrorists in Iraq. Subtle, no?)
There it is: the chilling effect. It seems to me that the term chilling effect is most often used by those on the Left when they don't like something that is happening yet don't have solid legal or moral grounds for opposing it.
Think about it. Didn't we hear about the chilling effect that would descend across America when whiny celebs complained about being criticized for opposing the war in Iraq? They didn't like it but couldn't really find solid ground for muzzling their critics so they bleated about the supposed "chilling effect".
As columnist John Leo pointed out, if your house is on fire, isn't a chilling effect a good thing?