Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fox News gets it right

See here. Although they also use the word "assassination," they rightly call the death of Benazir Bhutto a "brutal murder."

If it were up to me, I don't know that you'd ever see the word "assassination" in the papers, nor would you hear it on TV news. It slides too easily off the tongue, and lends a perverse "respectability" to those who murder their fellow man.

Be a rebel. Use the proper term when discussing acts like this; "murder." Add descriptive terms like "cold-blooded," "gruesome," and so on to draw a real picture of what went on.


Anonymous said...

I don't think the problem is with words like "assassination" or "suicide bomber"; it's with our bizarre cultural sense that you can use a word that means murder but describes a specific type of murder and somehow by using an alternate word, it softens it to something less evil or shocking than "murder."

What I mean is, an assassination is a brutal, cold-blooded murder, and suicide bombings [i]are[/i] homicides. The words themselves DO mean that, not something lesser. The specific terms are simply used to describe special circumstances (a political leader killed in cold blood for political purposes) or methods (using one's own life as part of the tactic of subterfuge when killing others in cold blood) to those murders; it's our culture's problem, not the words' problem, if for some inexplicable reason we attach less moral and psychological weight to "assassination" than we do to "murder," or we think that pointing out that the person used suicide as a weapon makes him more sympathetic than any other cold-blooded murderer.

I'd personally think using suicide as a weapon makes a murder less sympathetic, as he was obviously someone who was not driven to it out of desperation, because he could derive no perceived benefit from the act, unless he were a rank idolater of a bloodthirsty god. Not the sort of person that I feel sympathy for, though a detached sort of sorrow for such a soul is produced. That's purely a Christian response based on gospel understanding, though, not one evoked by thinking the evil of his act is diminished.

I guess I part ways with a lot of conservatives here, but not because I deem it a less "conservative" take on the situation, but a more "conservative" take on the use of language.

Unknown said...

I think assassination is a strong word too. And by the way, Merry belated Christmas!

Bike Bubba said...

Yes, it's a strong term; I think "Pentamom" nails the real issue, which is that we've absorbed a weird connotation to many words.

Which is the root reason why I'm always glad to see Fox's stance of using--sometimes if not always--"murder" for an assassination, and "homicide bomber" to convey the reality that the goal was to kill, not just to die. Sometimes we need those simple, blunt, nickel words instead of the ten dollar variety.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's just that "bomber" is a nickel word that informs you that the purpose was to kill people. So "suicide bomber" should be good enough if people just noticed that the term includes the word "bomber." You'd think that it really shouldn't be necessary to lay stress on the act of murder in any phrase that includes the word "bombing," but there you have it.

Still, I don't really disagree with your point. What might help, though, without conceding that describing it as a suicide legitimately softens the impact, would be to tie the people killed more obviously with the bombing act in the description: "Ten people were murdered by a suicide bomber today" rather than "eleven people died today in a suicide bombing." Sometimes the passive voice ain't so bad after all -- it can be helpful in putting the focus on the result of the act, rather than making the bad actor the hero of the piece.

Gino said...

'assassination' denotes a targeted killing generally of a political nature. this it was.
geez, all the hullaballo surrounding this: you'd think she killed for her good deeds. she wasnt.she had none.

'brutal murder' places bhutto in the nicole simpson catagory, and such is not the case.

fox has it wrong by calling this a brutal murder. this was a political killing, for political reasons.

if saddam had fallen 10yrs ago to assassination, would we be calling it a brutal murder? cowardly act? etc.

Bike Bubba said...

Good point, Gino; I just think that even when the victim isn't sympathetic (think the guys killed in the Valentine's Day Massacre), that doesn't change the fact that it's still a brutal murder. We need to remember at some level that even the most corrupt are still created in His image, no?

Anonymous said...

If I may be so bold, I didn't see a "good point" in what Gino said at all, except for the simple point that assassination = political killing. Does the fact that it's a political killing mean that it's any less a case of someone taking the life of another person, without any right to do so (i.e., "murder?")

Whenever you kill someone apart from personal or national self-defense or duly enacted justice, it's murder. Did she forfeit the image of God and therefore the inviolability of her life by man because she moved into the political sphere? Hardly.

Anonymous said...

If Saddam had fallen to assassination, it would have been a case of the people of his country defending themselves, not a murder. While Bhutto had flaws and her enemies, she was in no way a similar threat to the people of Pakistan. So, yeah, thoroughly murderous rulers get different words used for their elimination than ones who are relatively better.