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June 08, 2006

Al-Zarqawi "Betrayed"

That was a CNN headline.

A psychopathic head-hunting murder-cultist. "Betrayed."

Now, yes, I know what they were trying to say. Someone close to him ratted him out. (Actually, I just hear he was spotted by normal folks living in his neighborhood, but whatever.)

Are there not, however, better ways of saying that? Perhaps "Al-Zarqawi Killed Due To Tips From Sunni Informants" or that sort of thing?

Relevant definition of "betray:"

Main Entry: be·tray Pronunciation: bi-'trA Function: verb Etymology: Middle English, from be- + trayen to betray, from Old French traïr, from Latin tradere -- more at TRAITOR ... 2 : to deliver to an enemy by treachery

It connotes "treachery" and derives from "traitor." So, those who turned him in are guilty of "treachery," and may be traitors.

There are some words which have a neutral sort of meaning but are almost always associated with a positive or negative emotional charge. "Courage," for example-- the word that got Bill Maher into so much trouble. In one sense, "courage" is moral-neutral, as one can say, I suppose, that a gang-banger who shoots up a convenience store and then has a gun battle with ten cops, coolly killing many of them, has "courage."

And yet... we tend to associate "courage" with positive acts.

And so it is with "betrayal." Betrayal, I suppose, can mean the abandonment of a duty of loyalty to someone, no matter how odious the person is to whom tha duty is owed; but it generally carries a negative connotation. Betrayal, generally, is bad.

Yes, the word "betrayed" is quoted, so it came from a source. So what? There are other good words provided by sources that would make a compelling headline.

Just seems to be a very odd headline from CNN, suggesting that some evil skullduggery was involved in taking this guy out. And that he deserved better.

It doesn't help matters that the subhed calls this justified and righteous military attack a "hit."


A strange choice of words from our Elite Priesthood of Information and their vaunted multiple layers of painstaking editorial oversight.


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posted by Ace at 03:45 PM

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