Saturday, July 31, 2021

When ‘Terrorists’ Aren’t Terrorists: The Danger of Twisting Words to Suit Our Politics

 When ‘Terrorists’ Aren’t Terrorists: The Danger of Twisting Words to Suit Our Politics

Excerpt: I use the scare quotes advisedly. Though it’s the same word — murder — any honest person would acknowledge that it means markedly different things in the different contexts.

In their political messaging, when BLM devotees inveigh about police murders of black suspects, the intended connotation is Ides of March-style murder — premeditated, willful, driven by a combination of fear and loathing. But if prosecutors had tried to charge Derek Chauvin with that kind of murder, he’d have been acquitted.

In reality, Chauvin was found guilty of an unintentional homicide. There was not even a claim that he intended to kill Floyd. The statute under which Chauvin was convicted explicitly applies when the defendant acted “without the intent to cause the death of any person.” The medical experts repeatedly explained, moreover, that homicide, as they used that word in their findings, is a term of art meaning that death was caused by another; it is not a finding that death was caused intentionally, let alone with malice aforethought.

Chauvin was convicted because Floyd died in the course of what the jury found was a criminal assault. It reflected a theory that what began as a lawful police detention evolved, through the use of excessive force, into a lawlessly reckless act resulting in Floyd’s death. That is not murder in the common, colloquial sense of the word. It was, however, murder in the technical statutory sense. The statute (state penal law section 609.19) is titled “Murder in the Second Degree.”

The social-justice warriors who demanded murder . . . so that they could peddle a narrative of murder . . . ignore such nuance. [Andrew McCarthy has long been one of the columnists I’ve most admired. Like most of his current columns, this is one that National Review restricts to “Plus” members–which I am not one of. For peons like me, we are allowed two articles monthly for free. So, I’ve copied a bit more of it than usual so you can get the real idea of his argument. It’s well worth reading. It’s also the second or third article I’ve seen in the past week pointing out that a lot of our “culture war” depends on how we choose to define things. Definitions can be tricky, especially when they’re purposely blurred as they are here. Ron P.]

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