The Distraction of Word Games

Posted on December 7, 2015 by Robert Ringer


It’s bad enough that politicians and media pundits have obsessed over the question of whether or not the word “Muslim” should be used to refer to someone who is a Muslim and has committed mass murder. But in the case of the San Bernardino massacre, the hand-wringing centers more around the source of Syed Farook’s “radicalization.”

It’s absolutely amazing how the media is consistently able to divert people’s attention away from the real issues and create news out of nothing. “Radicalize” means to make someone “radical,” and radical means extreme. So when someone is radicalized, it means he’s arrived at a state of mind that is extreme by civilized standards. I would therefore make a case that all mass murderers are radical.

That’s right, John Wayne Gacy was a radical. Ted Bundy was a radical. Charles Manson was a radical. Jeffrey Dahmer was a radical. And certainly Virginia Tech mass murderer Seung-Hui Cho and Columbine High School killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were all radical. All mass murderers have become radicalized, or they wouldn’t think radical thoughts or partake in a radical activity like murdering lots of people.

I doubt that the question of how any of these people got radicalized matters to the families of their victims. In the case of Syed Farook, however, how he was radicalized is very important to both the far left and conservatives alike for political reasons. The far left wants to be able to shout to the rooftops that the San Bernardino murders were not an act of terrorism, while the far right wants to be able to point to yet another case of radical Islamic terrorism in America.

Which brings into play another favorite word of the make-believe media, “terrorism.” The dictionary says terrorism is “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce.” If someone uses violence against other human beings, of course it’s intimidating — regardless of whether or not the perpetrator consciously intended it to be intimidating.

That being the case, the word terrorism is nothing more than a bogeyman. Aren’t the black criminals who kill other blacks day in and day out in Chicago “terrorists?” Wasn’t Timothy McVeigh a “terrorist?” They could just as easily be referred to as thugs, rebels, or hooligans.

I agree that words matter, but the reason why someone uses a specific word also matters. If the word terrorist is used as a justification to drop bombs on people on the other side of the world, I’m against using it. By the same token, if the reason for not using the word terrorist is to stifle law enforcement from investigating those who are planning to commit mass murder, I’m against that as well.

The real problem — and it’s one that absolutely no one ever discusses — is a criminal justice system that coddles even the most violent criminals. In a truly civilized society — a society that is serious about protecting its citizens — perpetrators of premeditated murder would be dealt with swiftly and harshly.

I’m talking about trials (including all appeals) that would be limited to, say, three years. And, if convicted, the death sentence would be mandatory. No more playing out the string and being on the taxpayer dole for fifty years.

Does it matter that Nidal Hassan was “radicalized at least in part by Anwar al-Awlaki? He killed thirteen people and injured thirty, regardless of how he got out on the radical fringe and regardless of his Islamic beliefs. A civilized society would focus on retribution rather than endlessly debating nuances.

Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying here. In the modern sense of the words, Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, definitely were both terrorists and Muslims. As I pointed out, those two words are very important to people who are focused on furthering their political agendas.

But the focus of mass murders should be on the crime and the punishment. In the case of Farook and his wife, the crime clearly was premeditated, mass murder and the punishment was swift, so those two things aren’t at issue.

But political animals love to play word games, and their obsession with the terms radicalize and Muslim remind me of the most absurd of all politically inspired phrases: ”hate crime.” Aside from the fact that it’s impossible for anyone to get inside anyone else’s head and determine if he hated his victim(s), the more important question is: So what? Would Adam Lanza be less guilty if it could be proven that he didn’t hate the twenty small children he murdered (twenty people in all) in Newtown? I think not.

Likewise, would Dylann Roof, who clearly hated blacks, be less guilty if he had loved blacks? Hate or no hate, the same nine folks would still be dead.

Bottom line: If you kill another human being, it doesn’t matter if you hated that person or not. Either way, he lost his life. By the same token, if you engage in talk that others consider to be hateful, but do no harm to anyone in the process, how can you be guilty of a crime?

I recognize that the courts have ruled that speech that includes “fighting words” or threats do not have First Amendment protection, but that’s a pretty slippery slope. If judges were perfect, no problem. But they aren’t. In fact, many are just a notch above the criminals they lock up.

But, yes, to the degree it’s possible, in a supposedly civilized society, threats and words intended to draw someone into a fight should be off limits. Generally speaking, however, the phrases hate speech and hate crime are ridiculous and serve no purpose other than to inflame passions.

As to Syed Farook and his charming bride, I don’t give a hoot how they got “radicalized.” And I don’t care if you call them terrorists or mass murderers. What I do care about is having people in high law-enforcement positions taking radical steps to keep the carnage to a minimum.

And by that I mean things like increasing the FBI budget by as much as tenfold and paying for the increase with drastic cuts in welfare programs, the EPA, and other wasteful, anti-freedom government activities.

Oh, and there’s one other thing that would help considerably. Whereas arguing over semantics does absolutely nothing to prevent mass murders, legalizing the open carry of weapons in all fifty states would have a dramatic and immediate impact on reducing the number of people who are victims of such killing rampages.

And when I use the term open, I mean just that. Concealed weapons are okay as well, but if millions of people were walking around with guns on their belts, the number of mass-shooting victims almost certainly would decrease.

Of course, in today’s politically correct climate, my views on this are considered radical. If so, all I can say is that I was radicalized by the Second Amendment and a deep distrust of government, so I have the satisfaction of knowing that the Founding Fathers would definitely be on my side.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.