Friday, February 19, 2010

Words Matter when talking about Terrorism and the Austin Suicide Bomber

Even without having cable, I'm well aware of the fact that the Fair and Balanced Fox News Network has absolutely no problem throwing around the words "terror," "terrorism," or "terrorist," when discussing the actions of dedicated extremists with malfunctioning explosives in their shoes or underwear (especially if those misguided souls are men of color with non-Anglo names). So why am I not surprised that I can't find any word with that terror- root used in any of the online Fox News articles about yesterday's Austin Suicide Bomber, the terrorist (and "normal, right down the middle kind of guy") Joe Stack?

The farthest their language seems to go when discussing this cowardly terrorist murderer is "tax protestor" or "domestic extremist." Their lead online article on him this morning ends with an attempt to understand to poor misunderstood criminal and put him into a larger historical context with which many of their viewers might empathize:

"Thursday was not the first time a tax protester went after an Austin IRS building. In 1995, Charles Ray Polk plotted to bomb the IRS Austin Service Center. He was released from prison in October of last year.

The tax protest movement has a long history in the U.S. and was a strong component of anti-government sentiments that surged during the 1990s. That wave culminated in the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people. Several domestic extremists were later convicted in the plot."

Terrorism is terrorism. Corporate styleguides matter. Corporate styleguides help form the opinions of those who get their news from the channel of Cheney and Beck and O'Reilly and Palin. How many Teabaggers will feel free to take the next step and consider the Austin Suicide Bomber a hero, along with the murderers of abortion doctors and other criminal heroes of the radical right?

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