Where I Cram My Ideas

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

CNN Messes Up

I think it was intentional
I found a link to a CNN article called Religious Scholars Mull Flying Spaghetti Monster

While I read through the article with some interest, and intend to watch the Nova program it provided a link to, I was a little disturbed by the last paragraph.
He recognized the point when his neighbor, a militant atheist who sports a pro-Darwin bumper sticker on her car, tried recently to start her car on a dying battery.
Alright, CNN's editors, if not the writer, should have caught this. Look up "militant" in a dictionary. The word refers to people who are "vigorously active and aggressive; engaged in warfare; fighting."

Sporting a pro-Darwin bumper sticker does not make someone militant.

Ultimate words
Militant is a "devil word" in our culture. If you haven't read my previous posts about rhetoric, a devil word is a type of "ultimate word," according to rhetorical theorist Richard Weaver. Ultimate words hold a specific meaning in the mind of the audience.

"God words" are words like liberty, justice, bravery etc., while devil words involve ideas like terrorism, threat, violent, cowardly etc. When readers perceive the word "militant" in a description of an atheist, their first subconscious idea is one of fear and threat with regards to the subject.

This is not a simple type error - this is an unethical choice of words.

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