THE LATEST developments in the bare knuckle fight between Harry’s Place and academic Jenna Delich continues, with the latest twist focusing on 9/11 “conspiracies”.
Conspiracy theories and the strange individuals who waste their time reading about them can be easily dispensed with. What is more dangerous are those who seek to use their status, position and skills to justify or excuse acts of terrorism.
A few years back I was greatly offended by an article in The New Statesman by John Pilger. No surprise there, you might say – isn’t everyone? Pilger had written a piece about 9/11 and had come out with all the usual nonsense about how America wasn’t really the victim. What incensed me was his use of the word “terrorists” to describe Muhammad Atta and his fellow murderers. Let me make this clear: Pilger inserted inverted commas round the word “terrorist” within his article.
Now, my understanding of journalistic rules is that there are two reasons for using double inverted commas: when quoting someone, and to indicate irony. Pilger was not quoting anyone, so he was using “terrorist” as an ironic description of the… er, terrorists.
The implication Pilger intended was that Atta and his henchmen were unfairly labelled as terrorists by the mainstream media, but that he wasn’t going to make the same mistake, oh no. After all, anyone who hated the United States that much can’t be all bad, surely?
I found myself writing a letter of complaint, which was published and, surprisingly, responded to by Pilger himself. Can’t remember now what names he called me; they probably weren’t any worse than some of the things left as comments on this blog.
We should be very careful indeed of those in the mainstream media using language that seeks, even in a subtle way, to excuse or justify acts of random murder. Explain, yes; excuse, never.