I woke up this morning and discovered that Jared Loughlin “allegedly murdered several people” the other day. I am sure Jared’s defense attorneys are relieved, because as of yesterday, he had definitely done so. In front of witnesses, no less.
For those of you who didn’t click the link, this news was courtesy of the Huffington Post, which is well-respected and read by many. Let’s put this straight: He allegedly attempted to assassinate Congresswoman Giffords, i.e., to murder her because she was a public figure, and because of her political beliefs. Right now, we don’t know whether or not this was literally his intention–I’m going with “crazy” myself right now.
But there’s nothing “alleged” about those murders, and nobody in the country doubts either that mowing down the congresswoman, the kid, and the other four people, was MURDER. Did I have to link that to a definition? Thought not. Moving on. This wasn’t an unfortunate shooting accident demonstrating the need for gun control (don’t get me started), Loughlin actually indeed intended to kill these people.
There are fine points to be debated here, and there’s a lot to be said about “innocent until proven guilty,” and the culpability of the mentally ill (just being crazy is not a “Get Out of Jail Free” card); my point is that using this particular term is allegedly irresponsible, and an allegedly poor understanding of our language.
We all know that “alleged” goes along with “suspect,” right? But it’s a) one of the fine points mentioned above and b) something we’ve picked up from Law & Order. Using it here is media jingoism–it’s a two-word word, a phrase that conveys a sense of distance from the visceral–maybe he did it, and maybe he didn’t: Actually, according to that word, he didn’t until a jury of his peers says so. Next?
But he did. He did, he did, he did. Our justice system is charged to prevent Jared from being outright randomly lynched, and that’s a good thing, lynchings being bad things. But telling a country–a world–that mass murder can only be “alleged”–well, that’s a bad thing too.