WSJ Opinion Journal on “homicide bombers”

I don’t watch Fox News much, but I did the other evening was a bit surprised to see the whole “homicide bomber” thing still going strong. Via Volohk is this from Opinion Journal:

We often criticize left-wing media outlets like the BBC and Reuters over, among other things, their refusal to call terror by its name. But it’s worth emphasizing that by far the worst offender in terms of abusing the language via politically correct terminology is Fox News. Here’s a report from yesterday on the London bombings:

New evidence suggests four bombers blew themselves up on the London transportation system last week, killing at least 52 in what could be the first homicide attacks in Western Europe, officials said Tuesday. . . .

Two militant Islamic groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks on three subway trains and on a bus. Police had previously indicated there was no evidence of homicide bombings, suggesting instead that timers were used.

Although police stopped short of calling them homicide attacks, Clarke said “strong forensic and other evidence” suggests one of the suspects was killed in a subway bombing and property belonging to the three others was found at the location of the other blasts. . . .

The reason police “stopped short of calling them homicide attacks” was that the police don’t work for Fox News and only Fox News calls ‘suicide bombers’ ‘homicide bombers’.

This all reminds me of a post on The Command Post from January of 2004 on this very subject. Murdoc put in an appearance in the comments, and was then summarily executed for it. Fortunately, it was just a flesh wound and I was able to carry on.


  1. The BBC ‘terrorist’ thing is very, very wrong. However, the FOX News ‘suicide/homicide’ thing is very very very very stupid. It has made FOX News a laughing stock of journalism. Just look at that quote: ‘…what could be the first homicide attacks in Western Europe…’ Um, I believe the people in Madrid might have issue with that. I believe those were bombings that were homicides. And by ‘I believe’, I mean they *WERE* ‘homicide bombings’. Period. No room for debate. Stupid. Morons. Idiots. Clueless. Brain dead. Clowns. These are the words that come to mind every time I hear the term ‘homicide bomber’ used by a sub-journalist at FOX News. Am I being harsh on them? Yes. Ignorance is easy to tolerate. It’s the fact that they are *INTENTIONALLY* being idiots that loses them any shred of sympathy or respect from me. KTLA p.s. And *NO*, using an accurate term of ‘suicide bomber’ denotes no respect, martyrdom, or anything of the like. At all. To anyone but FOX News. It is a term that denotes the delivery mechanism of an explosive device.

  2. KTLA: Studies have shown that holding things in can often cause more harm than good. Next time you comment, feel free to let us know how you really feel…

  3. This issue has me puzzled. Yes, the Madrid bombings were homicide bombings, after all, a lot of people were purposely killed. However, weren’t a lot of people purposely killed in London? But the London bombings aren’t to be called homicide bombings because ………..????????? (Someone will have to fill in the blanks for me). I’ve forgotten, did the Madrid bombers not die in the bombing? Is THAT the issue that the term suicide/homicide bomber turns on? If the bomber is a moderate Muslim (a moderate Muslim is one who uses a remote detonating device, runs away, and then claims ignorance of the bombing), then it is a homocide bombing? And, if the bomber is an extremist and blows himself to kingdom come with everyone else, then it’s a suicide bombing? I like the term homicide bomber, but the above is a further distinction I can compromise with.

  4. Eagle: (For simplicity’s sake, let’s remove bombings directed at unoccupied structures, which wouldn’t result in death. We’re not that worried about those bombings anyway. Now, given that…) —HOMICIDE BOMBING— *ALL* of these bombings are ‘homicide bombings’. Every bombing that results in a death of a person is a ‘homicide bombing’. In fact, the last war in Iraq opened with a MASSIVE wave of ‘homicide bombings’. We called it ‘Shock & Awe’, and killed many people with it, hopefully the exact people we were intending to kill. There are still homicide bombers over there. Some of them carry US-made grenades, some fly F-16s, and some explode roadside bombs to kill coalition forces. They are all ‘homicide bombers’. The term ‘homicide bombing’ is an essentially nonsensical term, denoting a bombing that killed (or was meant to kill) humans. Probably something that came out of the DRD. (Department of Redundancy Department) —SUICIDE BOMBING— Any of those attacks described above in which the attacker is required to die in order to implement the delivery of the weapon. Examples of suicide bombers: – Car bombs, such as the barracks attacks in Saudi Arabia – Backpack/belt bombs carried by a person – Kamakazi pilots in WWII (Their bombs were attached to the underside of their plane) – While not technically a ‘bombing’, the 9/11 attacks were a ‘suicide attack’, the plan required the attackers to die or it couldn’t have been carried out ‘Suicide bombings’ are a subset of just ‘bombings’. (or ‘homicide bombing’ if you prefer) To answer some of your specific questions: – ‘Yes, the Madrid bombings were homicide bombings, after all, a lot of people were purposely killed.’ – Yes, they were ‘homicide’ bombings. Most people would just say ‘bombing’, let the attack on human life be assumed. They were not suicide bombings, the attackers did not personally deliver the weapons and die in the resulting explosion. – ‘However, weren’t a lot of people purposely killed in London? But the London bombings aren’t to be called homicide bombings because ………..????????? (Someone will have to fill in the blanks for me).’ – Because the term ‘suicide bombing’ is a better description. It denotes not only that there was a bombing, but that the attacker used themselves as a vehicle for the delivery. It is a FAR FAR better term because it conveys more information. If you wish for a more general term, you could just say ‘bombing’, there is no need for the ‘homicide’ modifier. – ‘I’ve forgotten, did the Madrid bombers not die in the bombing? Is THAT the issue that the term suicide/homicide bomber turns on?’ – Yes. Madrid was just a bombing. Not a suicide bombing. – ‘If the bomber is a moderate Muslim (a moderate Muslim is one who uses a remote detonating device, runs away, and then claims ignorance of the bombing), then it is a homocide bombing?’ – While technically, the answer would be YES, the question itself is relatively nonsensical because neither the religion nor the level of extremism is relevant to the use of the words ‘suicide’ or ‘bombing’. Timothy McVeigh would be a suicide bomber if he had needed to be sitting in the truck when it went off. (Save consiracy theories for another comment section, please.) – ‘And, if the bomber is an extremist and blows himself to kingdom come with everyone else, then it’s a suicide bombing?’ – Again, being an extremist is NOT relevant. Yes, if they blow themselves up, it’s clearly a suicide bombing. If *YOU* strapped a bomb to your chest and went off to the mall to detonate it, *YOU* would be a suicide bomber. I do not understand the difficulty some news organizations have parsing what are very simple uses of english.

  5. That was a fairly lengthy pretzel shaped answer, KTLA. Let me cut to the chase on the Suicide/Homicide name, and why I and millions of others prefer the term Homicide. I believe the term Homicide is technically more accurate than Suicide. However, the accuracy isn’t the issue with me. I don’t think it is with Fox either. Fox is catering to people like me. It’s that simple. I want them to be in your face controversial. They aren’t nearly controversial enough. I want the Old Media to laugh, or stomp their feet, or do whatever, just so they’re a bit irritated. I’m been considered a knuckle dragging Neanderthal for a long time already, and for this really insignificant term to get under the skin of the libs (I’m not calling you a liberal) brings a bit of quiet satisfaction to me and others. I’m just sorry they don’t have another 3 or 4 phrases that set liberals off. I remember the time, not so long ago, when we conservatives were told to ‘shut up and get your own news network’. Well, we got it, and to their shock, millions are leaving them to watch our network. Rocking the boat is good marketing. Do they think we’re stupid because we think the term ‘Homicide Bomber’ is correct? Probably. But me remind everyone. The Lefties have been WRONG on EVERY major political issue, domestic and foreign for over fifty years. Several million Indians and Africans are dying EVERY year over just ONE of their issues, DDT. The list of wrong stances on issues is nearly endless, and the list of the dead numbers in the hundreds of millions. Who’s the stupid one? They are.

  6. So, if I shoot myself in the head, because I can’t stand the stupid main-stream media any more, am I committing homicide? ‘A man was found dead this afternoon after apparently committing homicide upon himself. He should have called the self-homicide support hotline and let them try to convince him that there was still some sense left in the world, but unfortunately he decided to murder someone instead. That someone just happened to be him.’

  7. What if the ‘exploding device’ borne by any fanatic is confined to the death of a group of ‘gay’ men. Can that fanatic thus be labeled a ‘HOMOCIDE’ bomber? Just wondering.

  8. Eagle: Trust me. The set of people that think the term ‘homicide bomber’ is stupid only includes liberals coincidentally. It isn’t one’s ‘liberalness’ that would make one call it stupid, it would be one’s attention to detail, I know plenty of conservative, pro-War On Terror folks that think it’s assinine. They do so because they are smart people, who I also generally agree with on the war on terror issues. You said: ‘I believe the term Homicide is technically more accurate than Suicide.’ No, it isn’t. Seriously, that one isn’t even up for debate. I’m not ‘debating’ this with you any more than I would ‘debate’ the question of whether or not out atmosphere contained oxygen. I’m merely informing you, and Murdoc’s site is an amusing place to do so. If this were an actual debate, any passion on my part would have angried up my blood by now. As it is this is funny! (The BBC angries up my blood, see further down.) ‘Homicide’, in MOST cases will be as *ACCURATE* as ‘suicide’ because the both note the intention bomb/kill/destroy by use of the word ‘bombing’. However, in *EVERY* case, ‘suicide’ is the better term because it is more *PRECISE*. It conveys more information, and is always correct, even in the case where the bomber intends to kill no one other than themselves. The score on ‘homicide’ v. ‘suicide’: Homicide: Sometimes correct, sometimes incorrect, and conveys less information because not all the bombings kill Suicide: Always correct, conveys much better information, and maintains credibility in journalism The US is committing homicide bombings every day, around the world. Yours and my military carries our homicide bombings on a regular basis, and I hope they continue to do so as needed. Homicide bombing has been the use of most of the bombs delivered in anger since the invention of the bomb. Let me make it perfectly clear, I am all *FOR* homicide bombings, we need them, and will always be ‘perpetrating’ homicide bombings as along as we have a military in action. And trust me, the phrase ‘homicide bombing’ doesn’t make ANYONE mad. It’s laughable, and makes FOX (part of the MSM, since it appears you weren’t aware) look like a joke. I mean, it’s *FUNNY*. What *ISN’T* funny is the BBC’s version of this. Their apparent run through all their article to strip out the dreaded ‘terrorist’ word is deplorable. It’s wrong on a level far beyond FOX’s stupidity. Here’s the score, related to moronic word play by the MSM: BBC: Stupid and doing a serious disservice to the world FOX: Just stupid. And funny. But mostly just stupid and funny. 🙂 You said: ‘Who’s the stupid one? They are.’ Not really, since we’re just discussing the ‘homicide/suicide’ thing here. ‘They’, as in the ‘we’ that are aware of the proper definitions of words, and a sensible way of using them are very definitely not the stupid ones here. This is fun, thanks Murdoc!

  9. Okay, let’s all pause a moment. The reason that homicide bomber is preferred by some people is that the principle reason these attacks are carried out is to kill OTHER people. ‘Suicide bomber’ implies that the person involved was blowing himself up. Others are killed almost incidentally using this language. Homicide bomber can be seen as more correct terminology because the intent of the bomber is to kill others by blowing himself up. His intent is to commit murder, not ‘just’ suicide. The definition of suicide is ‘to kill oneself’- this is not the aim of the bomber- it is to inflict casualties. Hence the reason that some prefer the term homicide bomber. Some might think it stupid but the use of language by the media does have an influence, which is why the BBC uses the word terrorist. ‘Militants/insurgents kill people in Iraq’ sounds so much more palatable than ‘Terrorists murder innocents in Iraq’. At the recent G8 protests an American teacher was interviewed. She wore a T-shirt with the word ‘Insurgent’ on the front. She said she was doing so to show her support for the resistance in Iraq. It has been the media which has used the term insurgent in place of terrorist. The word gives the terrorists there a patina of ‘credibility’, particularly amongst the foolish like this. If the media had been calling them terrorists the whole time then support for the war and opposition to the terrorists might be very different now. Terminology is important in how the propaganda war is fought, in how people think about the matter at hand. Homicide bomber is a totally legitimate term and so long as it’s understood that it refers to a person detonating an explosive on their person with the intent of killing others I don’t see the problem.

  10. KTLA? Okay, maybe hold it in a *little* bit, anyway… :] Second: Yes, the X Bombers kill others so they commit homicide. They kill themselves in the process so they also commit suicide. We all get this. I think we can agree that ‘homicide/suicide bomber’ is not a good term. And if it was used, there’d then be endless debate about whether they are ‘homicide/suicide bombers’ or ‘suicide/homicide bombers’. (I prefer the term ‘murderous fucking bastard fuckers’, but I don’t think the BBC will go for that and it doesn’t even begin to express the suicide/homicide dichotomy that is the modern terrorist. But I digress.) Yes, some in some circles the ‘suicide bomber’ is glorified, even outside the world of the jihadist. And language is important and can be a weapon, as I point out often in my criticism of Legacy Media. So I don’t utterly reject the ‘homicide bomber’ terminology. To be honest, the biggest problem I think I have is that if you give the self-destructive terrorist bomber the title of ‘homicide bomber’, what do you call the terrorist who doesn’t self-destruct? A couple of nuts park their truckload of fertilizer bomb outside of a federal building but leave before it blows. They aren’t ‘suicide bombers’, of course. And they kill people, so they might be ‘homicide bombers’. But they shouldn’t be classed with the self-destructive sort of terrorist, should they? The suicide aspect, or lack of it, is a major line of differentiation. (I’d like to point out that my ‘murderous fucking bastard fucker’ tag fits both scenarios very well, BTW…) If bombers who commit suicide while carrying out their mission are ‘homicide bombers’, what does that make bombers who do not commit suicide? If a jihadist throws a grenade or plants a roadside bomb, is he a ‘homicide bomber’? As we’ve stated, language is important. But using the ‘homicide bomber’ tag leaves a lot more room for moral equivalency games where F-16 pilots and Marine artillerymen can be equated with Islamofascists and Timothy McVeigh. That’s a language scenario that we don’t want to wade into. Right-thinking (‘right’ as opposed to ‘wrong’, not ‘Left’) people generally don’t suicide attack the enemy. You could make an argument for Japanese kamikazes in WW2 and some ‘suicide missions’ of critical importance where the troops know they’ll never get out alive, but normal people, no matter how loyal to their cause, don’t see self-destruction as a way to win. And they never suicide attack civilians no matter the cause. The suicide/homicide bombers in Iraq and Afghanistan and Israel (and other locales as we see) not only think its a way to win, they *embrace* the suicide aspect of what they’re doing. So while I agree that ‘suicide bomber’ has been elevated to a title of respect in many circles, ‘homicide bomber’ doesn’t really combat that fact and could leave open an even bigger hole for our enemies to exploit. And yes, if someone started equating Islamofascist suicide/homicide bombers with F-16 pilots, we’d rightfully ignore them as idiots. So why don’t we ignore those that admire ‘suicide bombers’ as idiots?

  11. Coincidently, we were talking about this over at perfidy. The consensus there is that ‘homicide bombers’ is at the very least an offense against linguistic aesthetics; and at best a lame attempt to make a fairly banal point. Our two nominations for replacement terms are ‘assbiscuit’ from Patton, and my favorite, ‘splodeydope

  12. KTLA Ah, what a target rich post you wrote. You are right, thanks is due Murdoc for a fun opportunity to kick this about. But I must resist the temptation to rain destruction on your words and simply re-state my key point, which I obviously didn’t do very well last time. History is written by the winners. Such was the case in the Settlers vs. the Indians years ago, VHS vs. Betamax a couple decades ago, a year of so ago it was the name BLOG vs. something that would not make humans gag (apologies to our host!), and today it’s Homicide vs. Suicide. As your post indicates, you’re still very much in the forest, exclaiming about how there’s a certain kind of bark on one tree, and the next tree has a certain kind of leaf, there’s moss over on this one, and therefore the correct answer is Suicide. Meanwhile, the rest of the world has left the forest and moved on. Or at least today’s winner in the media wars, Fox news has moved on. Fox has decided that as the winners they are going to write the history of these bombers as Homicide Bombers. After all, that name was a small, but important part of why they became winners. Protest if you must, but you’ve lost this one. Don’t like it? That’s too bad. I don’t like the term Blog. Given the fact that Blogs are most likely going to be an important factor in current and future history they should have been given a name that isn’t so metro-sexual. My side lost that one. And so now I come to a blog to cheer my winning of the term Homicide Bomber.

  13. Eagle: No time to respond fully at the moment, but I will say this. You said – ‘As your post indicates, you’re still very much in the forest, exclaiming about how there’s a certain kind of bark on one tree, and the next tree has a certain kind of leaf, there’s moss over on this one, and therefore the correct answer is Suicide.’ Yes, the reason I’m correct is because I’m aware of what moss is, what leaves are, what a tree is made of. I’m aware of a forest, what a lake looks like, what leaves do. Cluelessness of what a forest even is is no excuse for stupidity, and FOX should at least know THAT. Thus, I like accurate terms to describe the ‘murderous fucking bastard fuckers’, or whatever Murdoc was calling them. (That’s the best name so far…) ‘Homicide’ helps *THEM* if only because it lowers the credibility of the US side, in so much as FOX News is affiliated with the US. It’s harmful to *OUR* side, but only in a minor and amusing way, again, not harmful the way the BBS is…

  14. KTLA Well, at least you admit you’re still in the forest! If we all look back and wave, do you think you can see us? We’re about a mile ahead of you…………way up here on the hill. Walk towards the light!

  15. As a member of the U.S. Armed Forces Law Enforcement currently stationed in Europe, i believe this entire topic to be rather pathetic! I find it rather idiotic that people are so concerned with whether or not we are properly categorizing the actions of these terrrorists! As far as im concerned the more offensive of a term we can find for people who commit acts of terrorism, the better! There is not a single terrorist on this planet that deserves the slightest bit of concern or regard, and rather than worry about how we can more effectively deterr their actions, we find ourselves stuck in a post about how we should properly label them. Quit squabbling about petty/pathetic Political sensitivity. Why dont all of you stop worrying about ‘Liberal’ or ‘Conservative!!!’ Why is it that Americans just cannot seem to quit bickering amongst themselves and start being concerned with…….. HOW DO WE PUT AN END TO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! It always seems these days that folks are more concerned with their own agenda.

  16. nomipr3: First off, Thank you for your service. Its selfless men like you who keep our country safe. Now on to the huge error you made in your post. You said: ‘Why don’t all of you stop worrying about ‘Liberal’ or ‘Conservative!!!’ Why is it that Americans just cannot seem to quit bickering amongst themselves and start being concerned with……..” Here’s why: We conservatives are fairly united to fight the same enemies you are: Those who would do harm to our Constitution, our Country, and all of us. Our squabbles mainly focus around the most effective way to do so. On the Liberal side of these same issues, history is replete with examples of how they get things wrong. The Cold War (WWIII) is a prime example. That war was fought by Liberals, and Country Club Republicans (read Liberal leaning Republicans) for decades, using the Liberal temple of ‘Oh if we could only understand them, and if WE could only LEARN how better to get along with others, then this problem will no longer be a problem’. Then Ron Reagan was elected, and he fought WWIII the way it should have been fought. He fought it in the way Conservatives had always wanted to fight it. He fought it to win. Not so amazingly, he did in 8 years what the Lefties could not do in decades. He ended it. He defeated the enemy. Today’s war (WWIV) is a war that even my grandchildren will fight until they pass the fight to THEIR children. Along the way tens of thousands will die, most likely hundreds of thousands, God forbid, perhaps even hundreds of millions. I DON’T WANT A SINGLE LEFTY to have ANY input how it should be fought. Nor should you. You’re closer to the war front than I am, and their involvment will affect you before it affects me. They’ve proven that people die when Lefties are involved. THAT number is dependant on who calls the shots for our side. As you recall, the Liberals were all for cutting and running from Iraq, just like they did in Mogadishu. Look up some of the history prior to WWII. It was the (then) Liberals who convinced the powers that were that it was time to disarm, and that Germany could be appeased. For that, thousands of Brits paid with their lives. As did Americans. If we had listened to the Liberals in the last few years,, Madrid and London might very well have been Los Angles and Boston. Our first battle is here at home, in the state houses, in Congress, and (thank God) on the pages of Blogs and Discussion groups. We need to defeat the Liberal Virus first, for it is those people who are infected with the deadly virus who prevent us from defending ourselves from terrorists, home-grown, imported, or overseas.

  17. First of all, let me say that i appreciate your support, as does every single one of us! Often a single word of it can have a great affect on ones morale!!! Now, as far as the differences between the thought process of the Political Left and Right, i definetely understand the differences between such. If the Political Left had taken a less liberal route when Bin Laden was offered up on a plate to the Clinton Administration then we could have avoided an immeasurable amount of strife and suffering! I probably should have sounded a little less hostile in my previous post! My point there was to attempt to call out how the differences between ‘Left and Right’, ‘Liberal or Conservative’ can affect the health of an entire Nation! Thats a difficult thing to do, and as this post has already read, i obviously think more on the conservative side of things! In reality the thought process behind the post was probably more wishfull thinking than anything else! If only the minds of the great men and leaders of America could disregard thinking as conservative or liberal. If only their thinking could be Pro-America, and not only short-term but long-term!!! I realize this is not an easy line of thinking to undertake, but it would definetely be a more unified one! Far too many decisions that affect our nation as a whole are left solely to those up on the hill! And those up on the hill are all but divided into Side A and Side B. This country was not founded on the division of minds, but on the unity of men. Or at least the absolute best unity capable among men at the time. I think that our Government has lost some sight of that. Be it due to a need for personal gain or other biased motivation, but nonetheless lost some sight! I dont know if im getting off topic here or not. But my reasons behind the previous post are in there somewhere. Hopefully this post will thin it down a little.