Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Urban Terrorist...and other misuses of the word "terrorist"

The Right's obsession with the word “terrorist” has gone too far. The Star reports that Prosecutor Carl Brizzi has labeled a 22-year-old man with a bad habit of killing strangers an "urban terrorist." This is about as accurate as calling a man who likes women a lesbian. [Straight men and lesbian have one thing in common, e.g. they like boobies, but other major differences, e.g. anatomy, warrant different descriptions for the two].

The following is an admittedly petty argument over semantics:

This is the definition of a terrorist:

adj : characteristic of someone who employs terrorism (especially as a political weapon); "terrorist activity"; "terrorist state" n : a radical who employs terror as a political weapon; usually organizes with other terrorists in small cells; often uses religion as a cover for terrorist activities.

So to be a terrorist, one must have a political or religious motivation. And it helps to have some friends with the same intent. But, according to Carl Brizzi, "There was no motive, no reason for these deaths other than the fact that he was claiming his territory."

On the other hand, here is the definition of serial killer:

Serial killers are individuals who have a history of multiple slayings of victims who were generally unknown to them beforehand. Their crimes are committed as a result of a compulsion that, in many but not all cases, has roots in the killer's (often dysfunctional) youth, as opposed to those who are motivated by financial gain (e.g. contract killers) or ideological/political motivations (e.g. terrorists).

I am not an expert in psychology or terrorist identification, but I believe that the gentleman in question would be correctly labeled as a serial killer. But he is, according to the Prosecutor, an urban terrorist.

And the National Education Association is a "terrorist group."

And the ACLU members are "all terrorists"

And I am probably a blogosphere terrorist, if you ask someone conservative enough.

The word terrorist has a specific meaning and a specific significance to our country, particularly the families of the 9/11 victims. The people on 9/11 were not killed by the ACLU or the NEA or even by a serial killer who was protecting his territory. The word "terrorist" should not be used as a code word for "be afraid, be very afraid" and it definitely should not be used to denigrate legitimate organizations or people. Enough is enough.


Anonymous Keith said...

How did I manage to fit into the context of your blog entry?

Just wondering.

10:21 PM  

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