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Abuse of language

Posted: March 4, 2009 12:22 a.m.
Updated: March 4, 2009 4:30 a.m.
Journalism, investigative or otherwise, is near-dead.

Its primary tool is the English language, yet (journalists) reinforce the abuse of the language by failing to hold "spin doctors" accountable for altering the actual definition of words.

Not coincidentally, these occurrences involve protecting those who do not genuinely accept responsibility for their actions.
The short list: Athletes forced to acknowledge use of illegal substances have "made a mistake."

Athletes and entertainers caught with weapons or drugs or having illicit affairs all "made mistakes."

The spin? Since we are all human and humans make mistakes, we don't have to be strictly held responsible for misdeeds.

The truth is, these are not "mistakes."

Accidentally grabbing your wife's keys is a mistake - grabbing an intern is not.

Mis-marking a test because you skipped a question is a mistake; misrepresenting your tax responsibilities is not.

Knowingly doing steroids or other drugs, cheating on spouses, carrying illegal firearms or abusing a partner, have all been explained as "mistakes," when in fact they have all been conscious decisions. And who has taken them to task for these weak apologies?

No one, so far.

Maybe because of the abuse of the word "hero."

The media uses "hero" to describe sports celebrities and other entertainers thus setting them apart from moral and ethical requirements of the common people.

Being iconic, popular or famous does not constitute heroism.

Self-serving law-breakers, rule-benders or bullies who happen to be famous are not worthy of the "hero" title, not by definition and not by deed.

It is a shame we accept this manipulation of the language, and a greater shame that the media is either ignorant or chooses to ignore it.

It validates the abuse and further erodes standards of language; and worse, standards of behavior.


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