Tuesday, April 16, 2002

There's been a lot of complaints that this term is deceiving, and that attacks that have been referred to by this term should rightly be called "homicide bombings," since the goal of the attack is to kill others rather than the attackers.

I disagree -- almost all successful bombings are homicide bombings. Oklahoma City was a homicde bombing. The word "homicide" doesn't add all that much to the meaning of the term.

In these attacks, the attackerr kills himself in the course of the attack which is somewhat different (though not morally distinguishable) from other bombings. And I can't think of a more economical way of saying that than "suicide bombings."

Of course on problem with this is it puts the cart before the horse. The first word is suicide, when the attacker's death is just a side effect of this method of attack. Still, as a consumer of news, this is something I want to know, and this information does help us reflect on the morality of the attacks (e.g. are they brave martyrs fighting for a cause or brainwashed children sent to their deaths by uncaring leaders?)

Believe me I was as disgusted as anyone when the news started referring to the terrorist hijacking of planes and flying them into buldings with the gntle "events of September 11th". But I can't get too excited about "suicide bombings." The term is informative, and not euphemistic. Until someone can come up with a short term that conveys the same information, I see no reason to change it. Especially when the alternative is the redundant "homicide bombings."
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