Hiding the truth behind jargon.
Using jargon to make palatable what we ask officers to do to keep the rest of us safe and secure against those who would harm us isn't unique to the criminal justice system.
Our politicians, and under their direction, our military, has engaged in the same linguistic contortions.
- In 1947 the Department of War changed its name to the Department of Defense.
- The Cambodian invasion was called an "incursion" and the war was officially a "police action," even though 2 million people died. (The president could declare a police action without congressional approval.)
- In 1974, a US Air Force colonel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia said to American reporters, "You always write it's bombing, bombing, bombing. It's not bombing, it's air support."
- We didn't retreat in Vietnam; we staged a "phased departure."
- "Neutralize" is the current euphemism for killing someone (CIA Manual).
- "Collateral damage" is the unintended killing of civilians.
And don't forget all the corporate buzzwords such as "right-sizing," "relayering," and "reengineering," for describing firing people.
I'm glad I used the "L" word instead of strategic deception. While I didn't anticipate the breadth of depth of response, I take heart from the ever wise Anonymous, who said,
Never fear to use little words. Big, long words name little things. All big things have little names, such as life and death, war and peace, dawn, day, night, hope, love, and home. Learn to use little words in a big way.
I don't believe that soldiers and police officers should be the only ones facing the truth of what we ask and authorize them to do on our behalf. We already ask them to face enough on their own while we sleep safely in our beds.
In this ongoing series of articles, we will face squarely the bargains we - the courts and the citizenry - ask police officers to make on our behalf. And if we find the bargain distasteful when truthfully revealed, we - the citizenry and the judiciary - need to address that.
But before I continue in this series with examining our legal system's criterion for police lying in the investigation of crimes, reader response to Part 1 reveals we first need to look at:
The Truth About the Truth in Our Criminal Justice System - A criminal trial is NOT about finding the truth.
So log on next month and keep those comments coming.