Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Words matter

I'm sick of newspaper articles that tepidly report that some innocent kidnap victim has been "executed" or "killed" by terrorists. In America, "execution" implies due process (whether or not one believes in the death penalty): the person commits a crime, is tried, found guilty, and is then executed. "Killing" sounds almost accidental. However, for what's happening here -- torturing and then decapitating people -- the word I would use is "slaughter," perhaps preceded by the adverb "brutally." No wonder Americans aren't rioting in the streets everytime one of these poor victims is horribly beheaded. The press has tacitly decided to use words that are emotion-free and that fail to convey the terror behind the event. In this regard, I don't think it's any coincidence that the French, in the 1790s, when they were experimenting with assembly-line beheading, called it "The Terror."