Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Unnamed journalists of The Guardian report:
The statement said that US troops were fired upon repeatedly and one soldier was wounded during the demonstration in the town west of Baghdad. Around 750 Iraqis attended the protest.

First of all, "the statement" didn't say anything - a spokesman or representative of the military did. A statement might have "read" as such, such might have been "according to the statement released by [x]", but to write that "The statement said" is to credit a literal nonentity with the powers of speech. Dogs might speak but documents never do.

Secondly, I have to stand in awe of the equanimity, the stolidity, the imperturbability of any intellect which can regard a sequence of events characterized by repeated gunfire and the sacking of government offices as either a "protest" or a "demonstration". In this country, our easily disturbed and excitable media workers are generally inclined to refer to such happenings as "riots" or, if the writer is of a sympathetic mind, "popular rebellions". A "demonstration" or a "protest" is typically a peaceable occasion on this side of the Atlantic, or at least an unarmed one. If firearm discharge and the destruction of public facilities are unexceptional events in the course of a typical British demonstration, I can't honestly fault the British government for its draconian gun laws. I'd want to keep such people on a short leash, too.

Via Andrew Sullivan.

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