As a writer, I’m interested in language and how it affects our perception of a story. Transportation Alternatives suggests that the way we talk about vehicular deaths is flawed:
A few years ago, the New York Times published a five-sentence brief about a man who “intentionally ran over five people” with an SUV after a fight in North Bellmore, Long Island. The driver, the Times reported, “fled the scene of the accident.” The police later located the vehicle that “they believed was involved in the accident.” One of the victims was in critical condition.
Ho hum. News briefs about the previous day’s car crashes are as routine as box scores and the weather forecast. Yet, in this case, the Times’ (and, presumably, the Nassau County cops’) choice of one particular word stood out: If a man intentionally ran over five people, how could that possibly be considered an accident? If, instead of car keys, the man had picked up a gun and shot five people, would the press and police have called that an “accident” too? No. They’d have called it “attempted homicide.” Yet, for some reason when the weapon is a car, when the violence on our streets is done with a motor vehicle, it’s always just an “accident.”
I’ve been following the developments in the Texas Tarsands Blockade and earlier one of the related tweets suggested “climate change” is a bad term because change can be positive, or imply growth; the alternate suggestion was “climate crisis.”
Food for thought. What’s on your mind tonight? What are your weekend plans?
This is the latest myFDL open thread.