Patterico's Pontifications

7/12/2005

Retire the Term “Homicide Bomber” Already

Filed under: Terrorism — Patterico @ 7:38 pm



Eugene Volokh inveighs against the term “homicide bomber” here, here, and here. In the final post he gives a good example of the sort of inaccuracy this often leads to:

New evidence suggests four bombers blew themselves up on the London transportation system last week, killing at least 52 in what could be the first homicide attacks in Western Europe, officials said Tuesday.

Can you say “Madrid”? But this gets lost in the homicide bomber double-speak, which I have opposed since August 2003 on this blog (and earlier in my personal pontificating life). (Also see this post of mine from November 2003.)

23 Responses to “Retire the Term “Homicide Bomber” Already”

  1. What term would you prefer? To me, “homicide bomber” is a more accurate description than “suicide bomber.” The intent of the bomb is to kill innocent people (which is an act of homicide); the “suicide bomber” is, in effect, simply the delivery system for a weapon intended to kill innocents.

    LCVRWC (7cd461)

  2. ” To me, “homicide bomber” is a more accurate description than “suicide bomber.””

    Does the term ‘suicide bomber’ really not create in you the impression of someone who kills others?

    actus (cd484e)

  3. LCVRWC,

    My interest is in accuracy. This reverse-P.C. term causes all sorts of inaccuracies because it’s not fully descriptive, as noted in this post and in my previous posts on the issue.

    As Actus suggests (broken clocks twice a day and all that), the term “suicide bomber” already conveys “homicidal maniac” in the context of our current culture.

    Patterico (756436)

  4. How about “murder-suicide bomber”?

    In the non-terrorism context, when some nut kills his family then kills himself, it’s commonly called a murder-suicide.

    The Editors ,American Federalist Journal (d7cfa2)

  5. What’s wrong with “terrorist?”

    Dan S (d281eb)

  6. How about “murder-suicide bomber”?

    A little cumbersome, in my opinion. I really think that the term “suicide bomber” has come to mean the same thing; in the isolated instances where the suicide bomber kills nobody else, that will become clear during the article. Generally, these people are trying to kill others.

    What’s wrong with “terrorist?”

    Nothing’s wrong with it, but it’s less descriptive.

    Patterico (327eeb)

  7. To me, “homicide bomber” is a more accurate description than “suicide bomber.”

    To me, too, if the phrase were used to describe anyone who used a bomb to attempt or commit homicide. But it’s not; else Madrid would have been much more of a “homicide bombing” than London. It certainly involved a lot more homicides.

    The only problem with “suicide bombing” is that it fails to distinguish those suicide bombers who succeed in murdering scores of people from those who screw up and set the bomb off early, killing only themselves. Perhaps the latter should be described as a “pesticide bombing” just to keep things clear.

    Xrlq (6c76c4)

  8. This Homicide-Bomber formulation was an active discussion topic on lucianne.com a few years ago. It grew out of anger and frustration that the bombers, by sacrificing themselves, had some claim to bravery or nobility of cause. National figures such as Bill Maher and Michael Moore were only too happy to perpetuate this sick interpretation.

    Homicide-Bomber was the admittedly awkward outcome, but eventually fewer and fewer people used the term in their posts. Guess the rest of the media is just catching up.

    TakeFive (2bf7bd)

  9. “This Homicide-Bomber formulation was an active discussion topic on lucianne.com a few years ago. It grew out of anger and frustration that the bombers, by sacrificing themselves, had some claim to bravery or nobility of cause.”

    Also the bush white house was pushing it. Looks like the newspeak stuck to some.

    actus (cd484e)

  10. It grew out of anger and frustration that the bombers, by sacrificing themselves, had some claim to bravery or nobility of cause.

    That sounds Orwellian to me. The facts are what they are. I don’t think that people who sacrifice themselves to kill innocent civilians have any claim to bravery or nobility … but it is what it is.

    People who want to pervert the English language to suit their own political purposes… eh.

    derek rose (ac326b)

  11. By the way, LCVRWC, a “homicide” is not the killing of an innocent person … it’s the killing of any person. If you break into my home and start to strangle you, and I shoot you in the head, that’s a homicide. See this wikipedia entry for more.

    derek rose (ac326b)

  12. Yeah, I never liked “homocide bomber” either. But is it really worth all the electrons that have been spilled blogging about this trivial issue? Those electrons could have been used to feed millions of starving people in Africa. Why don’t you use your favorite term, let FOX news use its favorite term and we can all be happy.

    Doc Rampage (47be8d)

  13. Would a terrorist kill others and himself if he weren’t assured of paradise and 72 virgins?
    If not, then he’s killing others for pleasure and sex.
    That makes him a suicidal, hedonistic, murdering madman.
    It’s a little awkward, but it works for me.

    Boman (4523ae)

  14. By the way, LCVRWC, a “homicide” is not the killing of an innocent person … it’s the killing of any person.

    I’m not sure that’s entirely true. By that definition, there were several million homicides committed by various armed forces during the second World War, and I feel there’s a subtle difference between an act of murder (a homicide) and killing in the persecution of a war (not homicide).

    It’s almost as subtle as the difference between calling someone a “suicide bomber” and a “homicide bomber.”
    🙂

    No matter. The intent of my original posting was to find out what term Patterico prefers, and though he didn’t answer my question directly, it seems he’s happy with “suicide bomber.”

    LCVRWC (7cd461)

  15. Correct. As the posts of mine that I cite in this post should make quite clear.

    Patterico (756436)

  16. “By that definition, there were several million homicides committed by various armed forces during the second World War, and I feel there’s a subtle difference between an act of murder (a homicide) and killing in the persecution of a war (not homicide).”

    IIRC, homicide is just killing. Murder is different. and so is killing persectuion of a war. killing because of an accident is also a homicide.

    actus (cd484e)

  17. Correct.

    Patterico (756436)

  18. If we are going to allow “homicide bomber”, please allow “homicide murderer” too.

    Shredstar (91b3b2)

  19. Nah, “homicide murderer” is redundant. You can’t have a murder without a homicide, but you can have a bombing without a homicide.

    Xrlq (e2795d)

  20. If you can’t have a murder without a homicide, then wouldn’t the word “homicide” already be implied with a suicide bombing?

    Joey (980813)

  21. It has to be a suicide, because if you call the dude a homicide bomber, he could have placed the bomb, ran away, and detonated it from a safe distance. So what makes him unique is that he commits suicide. He also dies first, being the closest to the blast. So everybody else gets it after he’s up there partying with the virgins.

    Joe B Goode (36353b)

  22. My web page is for contact only. I thought I would share a correspondece to one of your blog’s commenters.

    Derek:

    In reading Patterico’s Pontifications Blog on the wording of Suicide vs. Homicide Bomber,

    “If you break into my home and start to strangle you, and I shoot you in the head, that’s a homicide. See this wikipedia entry for more.”

    I find it entertaining your view is self-cited by a third party source (Wikipedia). In fact, I find many of the responses from literary geniuses entertaining as well. They are homicide bombers. Suicide bombers conveys the point adequately but also conveys a neutrality to the event and may even foster a positive light on the act(s). Stick to the Red Socks and let us Counter-Terror responders decide what is best printed and conveyed to the public in an effort to discourage such acts via correctly worded and conveyed propaganda. Or am I sounding Orwellian?

    M.E. Forgey

    I must say I like your cite and being acknowledged as most wanted by the Los Angeles Dog Trainer is a feat within itself. Nice blog-thanks. My bio is available upon request.

    M.E. Forgey (9e0bd7)


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