- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 10, 2003

‘Militant’ killers

“In the current climate, the terrorist tag effectively banishes its holder from the political arena. More than ever, it condemns rather than describes.

“Indeed, newspapers must be doubly careful about how they apply the word. Sparing use is the norm. For example, the Palestinian organization Hamas, whose suicide bombers maim and kill Israeli citizens, is routinely described in the Globe and other papers as a ‘militant,’ not terrorist, group. …

“It may seem like hair-splitting, but there’s a reason to reserve the terrorist label for specific acts of violence, and not apply it broadly to groups.

“To tag Hamas, for example, as a terrorist organization is to ignore its far more complex role in the Middle East drama. The word reflects not only a simplification, but a bias that runs counter to good journalism. To label any group in the Middle East as terrorist is to take sides, or at least appear to, and that is not acceptable. The same holds true in covering other far-flung conflicts. One person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter; it’s not for journalists to judge.”

Boston Globe ombudsman Christine Chinlund, writing Monday on “Who should wear the ‘terrorist’ label?”

Post-riot Rodney

“If you’re not a news junkie, you probably didn’t notice that Rodney King was arrested again. He was speeding at 100 miles an hour, high on PCP, when he ran a red light in Rialto, Calif., on Aug. 27. It is just a matter of luck that King hasn’t killed someone yet. This was his fifth arrest since a kangaroo court awarded him $3.8 million some years ago because the [Los Angeles Police Department] had ‘violated his civil rights.’ Or perhaps it was because the court was afraid that rejecting King’s claim would spark another riot that would kill 58 people and cost the city $16 billion in destroyed homes and stores.

“One of King’s post-riot arrests was for beating his wife, just in case you thought he was a nice guy harassed by police simply because he was black.

“Apparently, in addition to going to jail again, Rodney King is now broke. …

“Giving money to dysfunctional people is not a way to make them rich or even comfortable. It’s a way of enabling them to pursue their self-destructive behaviors at an even higher velocity.”

David Horowitz, writing on “Rodney King: Once a Bum, Always a Bum,” Tuesday in Front Page at www.frontpagemag.com

Hometown smear

“On ‘The O.C.,’ a show about the lives of rich kids and their parents in Newport Beach, characters take special care to imply that Riverside is a white-trash hell. And the nearby city of Chino doesn’t fare much better: City officials there say their city is being depicted as a ‘dirtbag town.’

“‘The O.C.’ view of Chino isn’t pretty: scorched-earth streets overrun with burnt-orange weeds and tiny stucco box houses surrounded by chain-link fences. Chino is where Ryan, the good-looking, troubled kid who steals a car in the premiere episode and gets sent to juvenile hall, is from. Soon he is taken in by his public defender, Sandy Cohen, who lives in an ocean-view Newport Beach McMansion with his real-estate developer wife. …

“It’s hilarious to watch California counties, and cities, broken down into easily digestible puzzle pieces for a national audience.”

Riverside, Calif., resident Susan Straight, writing on “Dissed by ‘The O.C.,’” Tuesday in Salon at www.salon.com

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