Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Wed May 19 13:58:08 UTC 2010

Journalists will drop the qualifications when he has been convicted in a
court--whether via jury verdict or plea agreement (i.e., confession in open
court). The qualifications are simply a protection against libel, as well as
being technically true. Just think back to Richard Jewel and the Atlanta
Olympics bombing or Steven Hatfill and the Anthrax mailer as to why the
qualifications are necessary.

>There is no reason to believe he is falsely confessing.

Really? There are lots of nuts who confess to crimes they had nothing to do
with. It's not that I doubt the confession in this case, but professional
journalists at respected media outlets get the basic facts of stories wrong
on a daily basis (e.g., Judith Miller of the NYT or any news article on
linguistics you've ever read), and it's not beyond law enforcement to
crucify a person in the media whom they "know" to be guilty. Judging guilt
or innocence through the filter of the media is not a reliable way to work.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Bill Palmer
Sent: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 5:14 AM
Subject: Legalistics

Is there a lawyer in the house? Or a journalist?

Faisal Shahzad has reportedly confessed to being the Times Square (almost)
bomber.  There is no reason to believe he is falsely confessing. Yet every
media source refers to him as either the Times Square bombing "suspect", or
the "alleged" Times Square bomber.

At what point can we drop the qualifications, and call him what he has
confessed to being?

Bill Palmer

The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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