A perspective from Perth, Western Australia

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Sheep and media language

I am tired of sheep on the Iraq issue. I noticed after Sep 11 a lot of people simply regurgitating the White House / CNN line on the war, without even thinking to question it. Similarly I've heard anti-war people who repeat the same sentences I've heard in the alternative media without thinking to question those either. I thought the whole point of being educated and being able to read and having the latest Internet technology in our homes was that we could research and find out for ourselves what our truth was (Seeing as we never will know the truth as all sides are biased, we can only find our own truth.) I'm strongly anti-war and believe the US administration has other reasons for fighting than noble ones, but at least I can argue my case instead of participating in this cheap and polarising sloganeering campaign that seems to be taking hold amongst the populace.

I'm also tired of several media terms which have been done to death in the coverage. I think we should introduce a financial penalty system where the journalists and networks using certain terms should be fined and the proceeds donated to the UN to cover their $2.2b shortfall for the oil-for-food program.

My list of terms which should be banned (and who to blame for their widespreadedness):

Weapons of Mass Destruction - as someone said on the BBC Talking Point program, "don't all weapons cause mass destruction?" I mean seriously, if they didn't, the armies should be taking them back for a refund. Besides, don't the US own more than the rest of the world combined? We have the US administration to blame for this term's overuse.

Hearts and Minds - Yes, let's win the "hearts and minds of the Iraqi people" by bombing the crap out of them. We can blame the British military for this one.

Shock and Awe - Doesn't this sound like something you'd hear at the local pub in a conversation about footy? "Oh, yeah, shock 'n' awe, maaate!" As it turned out, the only "shock and awe" we noticed was on the reporters' faces. US.

Military Target - usually named after the fact. There are as many of these as al-Qa'ida deputies (Have you noticed how many deputy leaders this organisation has when Western military forces are capturing or killing them? That organisation is very top-heavy!). All sides.

Collateral Damage - Notice that if fully-trained military men are ambushed by a suicide bomber, it is "terrorism", but if they drop bombs and kill 50 civilians (including children, presumably without full military training) who were shopping at the local market, this Gulf War relic is rolled out from the archives to describe the situation. Mainly US.

Friendly Fire - I'm sure the British and US soldiers getting killed and maimed by their own armies would disagree that the fire was, in fact, friendly in nature. It neither shows friendship, nor is it inclined to help or support, nor is it amicable in spirit, nor does it entail points in a competition (unless you happen to be a gambling Iraqi). All sides.

Embedded Media - New to this war, it refers to media who travel with the troop regiments. It was meant to be a propaganda force for the US/British forces but instead has become an information nightmare for them. For me, though, embedded media conjures up images of really tacky MIDI music on a webpage. US and British administration.

Chemical Weapons - Last time I checked, gunpowder and TNT were a mixture of chemicals. So, oddly enough, is the human body, the universe, and the NEC phone sitting on my desk, which is mostly made of different types of plastic, circuitboard, and bits of silicon and steel. Not really sure who to blame.

Regime - I have a dictatorial regime ruling over my body. It's called a diet. Should it be eliminated? Notice how the subtle distinction between "administration" (US), "government" (allied governments or those it doesn't want to piss off) and "regime" (obviously evil!) are played off. We don't hear much about the Saudi or Kuwaiti regimes, though. Primarily US (although my Macquarie suggests we blame the French. Hell, why not?)

Freedom Fries/Toast - If we need any other reminders that the US (insert word here - see "regime" entry) should not be in charge of the rest of the world for want of maturity, this is it. US House of Reps Canteen & Air Force One.

Exporting Terrorism - I'm just trying to imagine how that would look on a balance of trade report.

Enough bitching for one day.


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