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."

Everything old is new again

Learned today of a woman who claims she was sexually molested because man looked at her in a way that made her uncomfortable. It seems as if Andrea Dworkin's views about men -- i.e., that just about any conduct with a man is tantamount to rape -- have gone mainstream. What struck me about this little tidbit is that a certain, not insignificant, segment in our society views all men in precisely the same way that Southerners used to view black men. After all, Emmett Till was lynched for having the temerity to say "hello" to a white woman. Now, men are accused of rape, harassment, and molestation for having the temerity to look at or flirt with a woman in a way that makes her feel uncomfortable. I don't want to excuse men who exhibit bad conduct or bad behavior. I do, however, believe that we have to draw a distinction between a leer and a rape -- and if we don't, we run the risk of backsliding into the kind of violent, divided society the Jim Crow South was. ************************* If you have the stomach for it, Andrea Dworkin's views can be seen more fully at her website.