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FoxNews "Homicide Attack" Trope Criticized

by OpinionJournal's Best of the Web here (item 3).

John Jenkins (mail):
How about "Bomber kills x, self." (where x = no. of victims) Entirely accurate, no loaded terms, and it's shorter for a headline even.
7.13.2005 8:00pm
Bruce Hayden (mail):
Following is from my comments in polipundit.com:

I agree with Fox. The problem with "suicide" bomber is that it concentrates on the murderer, and not on the victims. The term "homicide" bomber does the opposite - his (almost invariably a male - remember the virgins) object is to kill as many as possible. The suicide portion of the act is just to make the homicide portion more effective. But, if they can kill as many and survive, then they will, by, for example, leaving a bomb somewhere and detonating it remotely or by a timer.

But the point of the act is not suicide, but rather homicide.
7.13.2005 9:42pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Taranto has complained about this before, and mocked Fox for it, too.......
7.13.2005 9:52pm
Dem:
Bruce: "But the point of the act is not suicide, but rather homicide."

Yes, but homicide is the point of all bombing attacks. To use "homicide" as a substitute for "suicide" often leads to statements that either don't make sense or are redundant. The Opinion Journal article notes this example:

"Two militant Islamic groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks on three subway trains and on a bus. Police had previously indicated there was no evidence of homicide bombings, suggesting instead that timers were used."

I still haven't seen one of the "homicide bomb" supporters on here explain how "homicide bomb" is appropriate to use in that context. "Challenge" got so annoyed on one thread that he called me a troll in order to avoid the question.

The point of the term "suicide bomber" is to inform people that the bomber intentionally killed himself as part of the attack and did not detonate a bomb by timer or remote. This is an entirely relevant piece of information to convey (it informs people whether the bomber is still on the loose, for example.) Bruce, do you think that news organizations shouldn't be allowed to convey this piece of information to viewers?
7.14.2005 1:40am
Guy:
I vaguely recall the origin of "homicide bomber" being a reaction to coverage like this: "A suicide bombing today claimed 3 lives" or worse "3 victims"

It took a bit of listening or reading to realize that the 3 lives (or victims) included the bomber!


How about "Bomber kills x, self." (where x = no. of victims) Entirely accurate, no loaded terms, and it's shorter for a headline even.


That's the better way to do it. I see nothing wrong with "suicide bomber," but using the active voice is important.
7.14.2005 1:56am
Hugh59 (mail):
JIHAD BOMBERS

OK, I understand the problem with the term "homicide bomber." "Suicide bomber" is descriptive without being judgmental. But still, the use of the term "suicide" adds a potentially misleading (and sympathetic) tone to the description.

Calling them "jihad bombers?" would be descriptive. The term "jihad" has a mixed connotation but this is consistent with the moral nature of the attacks.
7.14.2005 9:32am
Seamus (mail):
"Calling them 'jihad bombers?' would be descriptive."

Yeah, but it wouldn't be as informative as "suicide bomber," because jihadists operate both by suicide bomb (as in London) and by bombs detonated remotely or by timer (as in Madrid).

And I nearly wet myself laughing about the line that "Police had [in London] previously indicated there was no evidence of homicide bombings," which read literally must mean that the explosions were being investigated as accidents rather than as homicides.
7.14.2005 12:22pm