Can we get a translator?

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Catch of the Day: Tortured Language

Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University and wrote A Plain Blog About Politics.
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An important Catch to James Fallows, who took to Twitter today with a tantrum against reporters who are still using the disgusting euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Just a sample:

That last one is an especially good point. Government officials (and candidates, bureaucrats and all sorts of other folks) spin. They use code instead of clear language; they employ euphemisms; they bend the truth. That’s understood, and understandable.

The rest of us -- reporters, academics, citizens -- shouldn’t go along. Torture is torture. People who torture are torturers. Some people may have reason to pretend otherwise, but there's no justification for the rest of us to go along.

I don't think the semantics have much effect. Calling it “torture” probably doesn't change whether it will happen again. And, in general, I don’t think it makes makes all that much difference when the White House press corps allows itself to be spun by presidents or press secretaries. Still,  the least you can say is that clear language doesn’t make clear thinking harder. It's also the least we can expect from our media, and from ourselves.

Nice catch!

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To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Max Berley at mberley@bloomberg.net