Tag Archives: war

Narrating War

It’s no secret that killing people is unpleasant. Even if there weren’t genetic blocks against bloodlust, we have all been conditioned to understand that causing death is bad. Other people deserve to live.

Unless they’re not people. Or they’re very, very, bad people.

"goons 'massacre' rebels" (screenshot from The Daily)

Name-calling is an effective argument. In logic-nerd circles (where arguments ad hominem are invalid) this is not true, but to the rest of us, calling someone a name often works wonders to undermine their credibility.

dislodging "Gadhafi's thugs" (clipped from The Daily)

It’s only natural that we be willing to bomb “goons” but not “fathers.” Of course, if you’re beating a war drum, “thugs” also seems perfectly appropriate (as opposed to “supporters of the current government”).

Now, before you call me a name to discredit me (Gadhafi lover!), let me say that I don’t think there’s a “right” side to this story.

Having said that, I believe we are entitled to reporting on events that doesn’t paint so clear a picture of desired outcomes. Populism is popular (notice the shared Latin root…), but invoking hatred, or very very stern dislike, is not the job of news media.

They should leave it to blog commenters…