May 4, 2010 | 23 Comments
Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American, who, preliminary reports indicate, is not a member of the Tea Party, has been arrested in connection with the Times Square bombing.
Officials think that either Shahzad did the deed, or knows who did.
And this was a bombing: that the lethal contraption malfunctioned matters not a whit. Shahzad, or somebody probably known to him, attempted to terrorize, commit mayhem, and to kill. He accomplished the first two goals, but luckily not the third.
Before Shahzad was, Hollywood-style, ripped off a plane as he was making his escape; before, that is, the cops knew who to apprehend, officials were saying what Attorney General Eric Holder said: “[We] will not rest until we have brought everyone responsible to justice.”
Last Sunday, after rousing Janet Napolitano from her slumber, she was able to say that whoever did the deed would be “brought to justice.”
Even so lowly a personage as Danny Defenbaugh, ex-FBI and master of scientific criminal investigation, said “the chances he will be brought to justice are very good.”
This language is wrong. Shahzad, or whomever, should not be “brought to justice.” He should be brought to the end of a short rope with a swift jerk.
Unlike newspeople and politicians, I do not speak metaphorically. By any sensible morality, Shahzad’s—or whomever’s—life is forfeit.
Which is why I hate the vague phrase “brought to justice.” What exactly does that mean? Merely to be captured or apprehended? If so, wouldn’t it be easier to say, “Whoever did this will be captured”? Or even better, “We’ll find who did this.”
Or does “brought to justice” mean to locate the fiend and to, as quickly as possible, read the perpetrator his rights and to secure him a lawyer? There are precedents for this interpretation. Just think back to Christmas and the Fruit-of-the-Loom Bomber, that despicable botch of nature whose “rights” were considered more important than those of the citizens of Detroit.
“Brought to justice” is a marketing phrase, a set of words the utterer is hoping the hearer will supply the meaning to. When Holder says it, he is hoping those who are inclined to think as I do, that it means “found, made to reveal his secrets, tried, convicted, and then strung up.”
But Daily Kos readers are allowed to think that it means, “located, given his rights, counseled that his hatred of America is understandable, told that he should try and keep away from explosives in the future, and then freed.”
What actually happens to Shahzad, or whomever, will likely fall between these two scenarios, landing closer to Kos-land. In any case, reporters, when they can be made to cease rooting for an administration and do their jobs, should insist on learning what the speaker of “brought to justice” actually means by it.
Remember when Obamacare was foisted upon us? Before the final vote, polls indicated a fairly substantial majority of Americans were against the healthcare bill. This might have caused lesser administrations to quail and offer compromises. But President Obama and Speaker Pelosi ratcheted up the rhetoric and engaged in maneuvers designed to increase government control.
These actions, reporters everywhere said, were Mr Obama’s way of “doubling down” on his strategy. That unfortunate phrase spread like a virus and now appears everywhere.
Jeff Schweitzer, a biologist and former Clintonista, wrote on the Huffington Post that “Republicans are now doubling down [like] crazy” on their strategy of revealing flaws in the White House’s economic policy.
Randall Amster, who bills himself as a (I choke) “peace educator, author, and activist”, on the same website, wrote that our response to the Gulf Oil spill “requires a regular doubling-down” on oil use, in writing policy, or something (Amster is not a clear writer).
“Doubling-down” originally described a popular gambling strategy. In blackjack, doubling-down can sometimes increase the amount you win by a fraction. In reality, though, it is a way of forking over your money to a casino at a faster rate.
(Yes, dear reader, I know that you are the one exception who has found a method to beat the odds; and that, on the whole, you have won more than you lost. Of course you have.)
“Doubling-down” can function as a humorous metaphor for political navigations, a fresh substitute for the tired “all or nothing.” That it was picked up so quickly and used so often reveals plenty about the lemming-like nature of journalists.
When these creatures hear a catchy theme, they latch onto it, and use it mainly to show fellow journalists that they are hip to the latest slang. And it is our ears that must suffer their verbal assaults.