Sunday, July 17, 2005

Iraq Homicide/Suicide Attacks

In articles on the recent wave of bombings in Iraq there was again a marked difference in how the bombers were described. Fox uses these phrases: “homicide attack,” “homicide strikes,” and “homicide car bombers.” In all, Fox uses “homicide” eight times. As I have noted several times before, Fox emphasizes the effect of the attacks rather than using the term “suicide” which emphasizes the sacrifice of the bombers. Fox uses “suicide attacker” once while quoting someone. CNN uses “suicide” five times and never uses “homicide.”

On a more subtle note, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani sent a message of condolence. CNN and Fox had the same statement from which to choose a quote. CNN chose this quote in which Talabani makes a strong appeal to other leaders:

"While we strongly condemn this crime, we call on all local, regional and world parties to denounce the blatant acts of terrorism, leave double standards, stop campaigns of ideological backing to terrorism and contribute to fighting it and disclosing terrorism's treacherous aims," the statement said

Fox chose this quote which infers some success by the “occupation” and notes the targets of the terrorists, emphasizing their desperation and evilness:

"After running out of their pretexts of resisting the occupation, the terrorists have been targeting religious places, children, oil and water facilities and Iraqi soldiers," read Talabani's message.

Links:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/07/17/iraq.main/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,162758,00.html

1 comment:

Notgruntled said...

As I have noted several times before, Fox emphasizes the effect of the attacks rather than using the term “suicide” which emphasizes the sacrifice of the bombers.

The term "suicide bombers" isn't used to "emphasize the sacrifice of the bombers," or to somehow express sympathy or enoble them, any more than referring to a "car bomb" emphasizes the loss of the vehicle or "roadside bomb" emphasizes the damage to the curb. It's simply the most precise and descriptive term to describe the method of the attack.

Ted Kaczynski is a homicide bomber. Tim McVeigh was a homicide bomber. Air force pilots are homicide bombers (jusitifiable or even praiseworthy homicide is still homicide).

"Homicide bomber" is a vague, meaningless term coined by President Bush in a photo op, and the fact that Fox picked it up and uses it exclusively is a clear indiciation that it's letting the White House write its stylebook.

"Suicide bomber" is a concise term used for decades and clearly understood. The fact that the bomber attempted to blow up someone or something else is pretty well covered by the word "bomber."

If you doubt which is the more widely accepted term, try Google -- the phrase "suicide bomber" (with quotes) gets 1.7 million hits. "Homicide bomber" gets about 23,000, and a quick scan of the first results page somewhere between a third and half of the hits are people decrying or debating the use of the phrase.