Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Weaselly Bloggers

Reading through many a blog over the last year or two, I've noticed a common tactic of posters to resort to Weasel Words. The advocate uses emotionally loaded labels to boost his or her position or to denigrate the opponent's position.

An example of weasel word usage might be the description of a bombing campaign. Commenting on civilian casualties a peace activist might state that the bombing is "genocide" (a dysphemism), whereas a military spokesperson might use the term "collateral damage" (a euphemism). In both cases this obscures the reality of the issue by use of a weasel word.

Genocide is the deliberate mass killing of non-combatant ethnic groups because of their ethnicity, whereas in the situation described above we have war-zone civilian casualties. If this is now genocide, then what new word do we use to describe actual genocide?

Collateral implies buildings and real estate rather than individual human beings. The euphemistic use of "collateral damage" is intended to distance the viewer from the human tragedy which is the outcome of almost any bombing campaign.

We should all challenge the misappropriation of terminology. In this case we would be talking about "civilian casualties" rather than genocide or collateral damage.