Thursday, May 19, 2005

Doublespeak

One of the things I painfully relearned while on a forced diet of TV is the way the networks distort reality by careful choice of words.

The BBC and CNN are particularly offensive - people "die" in "insurgent"attacks, rather than being murdered, and so on. Even the right wing Daily Telegraph is not immune - today it headlines continuing attacks by Palestinians on Israel as:

Ceasefire under threat after rockets fired in Gaza

There are 2 problems here. First, they use the common trick of the passive - they don't identify the bad actor. Second, they treat a ceasefire like a glass of water - it may be almost empty, but as long as there's a trace of water in it, it's still a glass of water. But of course ceasefires are not glasses of water, they are agreements to cease fire. If one side opens fire, the agreement lapses.

So, the Telegraph's headline should read.

Palestine ends its ceasefire agreement with Israel by firing rockets in Gaza

So this inoffensive-seeming little story is quite unpleasantly manipulative, carrying the message that the state of Israel should adhere to a broken ceasefire, while its enemies do not.