Monday, December 17, 2012

How word choice can help prevent future shootings

     Author Jay Heinrichs has written an informative piece about how word choice can help prevent future mass shootings. Among his suggestions: instead of calling the shootings a tragedy--which implies that they were inevitable--call them a massacre; and when the Second Amendment is discussed, mention that it calls for a "well-regulated malitia," which has nothing to do with shooting children.

    I discussed similar issues of word choice in my article about George Orwell's relevance to legal writing. And I've noticed how gun-control opponents use language to their advantage when they say, "Guns don't kill people--people do." That piece of linguistic legerdemain ignores English syntax. A drinker could say,"The bartender made me drunk" (focusing on a person) or"the Scotch made me drunk" (focusing on the immediate cause). Both are true. Of course guns kill people--a fact that was all too vividly demonstrated at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

hat tip: Lisa McElroy


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