Skip to comments.The curious grammar of police shootings
Posted on 07/14/2014 5:59:32 PM PDT by Second Amendment First
Youre probably familiar with the weaselly way politicians tend to apologize when theyve been caught red-handed. The most famous example is the use of the line, mistakes were made. Use of the passive voice in an admission of wrongdoing has become so common that the political consultant William Schneider suggested a few years ago that it be referred to as the past exonerative tense.
Youll often see a similar grammatical device when a police officer shoots someone. Communications officers at policy agenies are deft at contorting the English language to minimize culpability of an officer or of the agency. So instead of . . .
. . . Mayberry Dep. Barney Fife shot and killed a burglary suspect last night . . .
Youll see . . .
. . . last night, a burglary suspect was shot and killed in an officer-involved shooting.
Its a way of describing a shooting without assigning responsibility. Most police departments do this. But we can take a few recent examples from the Los Angeles Police Department. Here, for example, is how the LAPD describes a typical shooting that does not involve a police officer:
On February 10, 2014, around 6:10 p.m., the victim was in the parking lot in the 13640 block of Burbank Boulevard, to the rear, when he was confronted by the suspect. The suspect produced a semi-automatic handgun and fired numerous times striking the victim in the torso.
Note the active voice. We have a clear subject, verb, and direct object. Contrast that with how the LAPD has described a few recent shootings by LAPD officers:
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
When the officers arrived they were confronted by a Hispanic male armed with a sword. The officers attempted to take the suspect into custody by using a taser but it was ineffective. The suspect then ran towards the officers still armed with the sword and an officer-involved-shooting occurred.
“The milk spilled.”
A mom and three kids were killed by an SUV...
Spilled, the milk has.
The gun went off.
Two verbs you will hear ONLY in police reports:
“The victim was transported to the hospital...”
“He exited the vehicle...”
Drives me crazy!!
This might possibly be an important story, because here we have none other than the Washington Compost coming out against the way stories about police are written, in a way that casts doubt against the police. From one of the most lap-doggingest statist-quo go-go-government mouthpieces. So, either there’s a chink in the armor, or the WP is trying to undercut local police so as to have the Infallible Feds take over.
Is it me or does this guy look like Curly?
The media is completely complicit in these wordings, plagiarizing lazily police reports from their public affairs office.
All of this wouldnt be much more troubling than your typical grammatical ass-covering by other public officials if it werent for the fact that (a) were talking about people getting shot and killed, and (b) in most cases, the same police agencies engaging in linguistic gymnastics to publicly deflect responsibility for police shootings will inevitably be in charge of investigating the same officers for the same shootings.
Like Holder investigating Obama.
But right now, the media for the most part is pro-government and pro-law enforcement. Right now.
When/if a a conservative becomes POTUS, government once again becomes corrupt right down to LE.
This is the way they roll much of the time.
A side note, Obama and his administration have become so corrupt, and so disastrous on every level, it’s becoming difficult for the leftist media to continue to just ignore it and or make excuses for it. Some, not all, are actually turning on him in the wake of so many scandals and reckless policies.
A verb you will hear ONLY in military police reports:
“Un-ass the vehicle!”
"How strangely will the tools of a tyrant pervert the plain meaning of words!" --Samuel Adams, to John Pitts, 1776
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