Euphemisms in the Media

May 10, 2006 at 3:53 pm (Culture)

Every weekday at 6:00pm, 88.1 KNTU runs a simulcast of the local WFAA news television broadcast. Yesterday as I neared the gym I caught a story that made me flush with anger, not to mention giggle insanely whilst ranting to myself at the situation.

It was this story – a quick nod to a local school board political hopeful who had in his adult past shoplifted over $500 of lingerie from a Neiman Marcus. The phrases that caught my attention were "poor judgment" and "made a mistake". In the Dallas Morning News article they quote the man as having said something like he was going through a time of tough challenges and that money was tight. He's running for the Dallas School Board and plans to continue his bid even with the situation from his past coming to light.

First, let me say all the more to the man for continuing with his bid for election to the school board. While I would never vote for such a person – it's not like he was a teenager when he committed the crime – I think it is an important step at criminals (minor or major) overcoming their past and making something of themselves, no matter what the fight.

The issue I have is the use of euphemisms to 'soften' the blow of the crime. Poor judgment? Mistake? If he weren't a politician I don't imagine those are the words we'd read in the paper. I don't understand what the poor judgment was – he was 35 years old; again, it's not like he was a teenager hanging with the wrong crowd. Mistake? I'm sorry, but it's not like he stole from a Wal-Mart; there was diliberation on that decision. I just don't buy it. And, even though I think it's his right – and I do applaud his efforts – to try to gain local political office, I hope I'm not the only one who puts some thought into the situation.

Some will say I'm being too hard on him, that at least he's fessing up to the crime. And to those people I would say… sure, he's fessed up. But he's making it sound like it could happen to anyone with 'poor judgment'. Now, do you want someone, who at 35 years of age had enough poor judgment to steal high-end bras and panties on your child's school board? Me, personally (even without kids)… I'm not so certain.

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