[ADS-L] Kidnapped

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Tue Jun 27 21:49:55 UTC 2006

In a message dated 6/27/06 3:15:38 PM, nee1 at MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU writes:

> Someone suggested that kidnapping implies (or actually describes) a
> situation in which the taking of a person has the intended goal of
> money or some specific action (e.g., the release of prisoners). While
> that is certainly an issue in the more recent case (apparently the
> captors of the Israeli soldier are making demands to ensure his
> release), as far as I can tell (I was out of town all last week, so
> not following the story very closely), the American soldiers were
> found dead and there is nothing to indicate that there was anything
> "behind" their capture (or anything more than usual in a war).

Kidnapping--at least in North Carolina--does not require holding someone for
ransom. Rapists are frequently charged with kidnapping if they force the
victim to go with them.

Soldiers who are captured for the purpose of being bartered for the release
of someone else could perhaps more accurately be described as " captured and
taken hostage."

The fact that the "enemy" in Iraq might be viewed as something other than
soldiers serving in the armed forces of a foreign military perhaps conditions one
to think of their actions as civil crimes rather than acts of war. On the
other hand, our government keeps insisting that we are "at war" and that there is
an "enemy," so in that sense the use of "kidnapped" seems unjustified and

However, I suspect that the real reason that "kidnapped" is used is not some
nefarious jingoistic propaganda plot, but merely the result of the fact that
"kidnapped" was used by the press--more or less legitimately--to describe
private citizens who were captured by anti-government forces, held for ransom of
one sort or another, and sometimes displayed on television (and even beheaded
before the cameras). It is a natural, if nonconventional, extension of the
old-fashioned use of the word undr such circumstances to describe soldiers who are
fighting a decidedly nonconventional enemy.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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