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September 14, 2004



Wycliff and his sort would like to avoid the term "terrorist" because it implies a judgment, but the word has negative connotations only because it precisely defines those who perpetrate events such as Beslan. He might as well stop using the word "murderer" for the same reason. Clumsy passive expressions like "eschewal" and "freighted" point to a mind that isn't willing to see things for what they are. So much for objectivity. Wycliff seems to think he can eliminate ugliness by calling it something else, but he doesn't realize that words change meaning because they follow the truth, and ultimately he will only have given "rebels" and "militants" a bad name.

john b

If the Chicago Tribune style guide is like any style guide I've ever used, then I suspect it's issued a blanket ban on the word to prevent journalists from using it in more ambiguous situations.

As a parallel, I think there are certain historical contexts in which using the word 'nigger' would be appropriate - but if I were writing a corporate style guide, I might well include it on the 'words not to use' list anyway.

In situations where it would be appropriate, journalists would have to find another word. This wouldn't do anyone any major harm.



I don't understand your point. Can you give me an example of a "historical context" where using the word "nigger" would be appropriate? There is, of course, a big difference between quoting a historical instance and using the word in the present.


The Big Lie at work. I was starting to doubt my own understanding of the words "terrorism" and "terrorist". If anyone has any empathy for Mr. Wycliff's response, I humbly suggest that they pull out their trusty old Webster's or Oxford Dictionary; the guy's a weasel of the worst kind.

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