Saturday, September 24, 2011

Who's "assassinating" what? Use words correctly! (by anon)

Police call shooting an "assassination attempt"

Assassination attempt

Wait a damn minute here. Where did these people go to school. This was not an assassination attempt. Someone just shot at these dudes and missed.  For example, Biggie and Tu Pac were not assassinated. These two dudes, unfortunately, got shot and died. The murderer has not been apprehended, not the assassin has not been apprehended.  JFK got assassinated. Lincoln got assassinated. It would be incorrect to say that Jack Ruby assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald but correct to say that the Oswald assassinated JFK, regardless of your position on the assassination. Jack Ruby shot and killed Oswald.

Here is a short headline from a Canadian paper about a mafia leader whacked:

The patriarch of Montreal's most notorious Mafia family — Nicolo (Nick) Rizzuto — has been killed in his home in a slaying that caps months of escalating attacks against the embattled crime clan. 

They got it right. It would be incorrect to write that Nick, may the deities have mercy on him, was assassinated.  This dude, like Biggie, Pac, and Oswald was shot and killed. Period.

Lets limit the word "assassination" to prominent public figures. Because it would sound weird for us to start saying that John assassinated his wife, or the wife and her boyfriend assassinated her husband, or, on a honeymoon cruise, Mike assassinated his wife by pushing her off the boat. Try this one on for size OJ "assassinated" Nicole and Ron Goldman.

My advice - lets sick with the word murder or attempted murder in the case of the State Journal. It still works well. Imagine a headline, Casey Anthony is on trial for allegedly assassinating her daughter.

My final point here is that we all should learn to use words correctly.


  1. what a useful point you've made

  2. Yes girl, words are important.

    Consider this one. I saw a lot of headline with "Troy Davis was murdered" While I think that Troy should have gotten a new trial, he was not murdered, but executed.

    Big difference!

    Murder is the unlawful killing of another human being with "malice aforethought", and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide (such as manslaughter). A person who commits murder is called a murderer . Thus by definition, the state cannot murder anyone. Regardless of your feelings about capital punishment, prisoners are executed, not murdered.

    Thus, Troy Davis was executed, not murdered.

  3. Merriam Webster's second murder (a usually prominent person) by sudden or secret attack often for political reasons

    Political reasons are not always the politics of government.

    As to your comment's point, Camus said, "Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal's deed, however calculated can be compared. For there to be an equivalency, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life."

    Words do, indeed, have meanings. But sometimes those meanings are slippery.