"gunfight" and "exchange of gunfire"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Apr 23 16:41:58 UTC 2013


I agree completely with you that "gunfight" and "exchange of gunfire"
are not justified in the present state of (public) knowledge.  I only
quarreled with your seeming use of the statement
>A member of the SWAT team that arrested him told CNN this morning that they
>approached the boat with caution when he surrendered because "we thought he
>might have a weapon."
as evidence that there was *not* gunfire, because the SWAT team
member had only "thought" there was a weapon.  That thought was
before anyone could determine what was in the boat.

And to say that there *are* some reports of gunfire.  (How much
gunfire makes something a "fight" or an "exchange" I leave to
others.)  But I also said (agreed) that we (the public) lack reliable
and verified reports.


At 4/23/2013 11:23 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>Joel, I don't understand what you're talking about.
>It was repeated over and over on Friday and Saturday that there'd been an
>"an exchange of gunshots" at the boat, a "gunfight."  Video records dozens,
>even scores, of shots fired, but shots do not make a "gunfight" or an
>"exchange." For all anyone can tell, all those shots came from the SWAT
>Days later, not even an officer who was present will confirm that Joker was
>found at the boat with a gun.
>Unless Joker is known to have fired at police from the boat, there is no
>justification for the media's appeal to melodrama. There was a police
>"fusillade." There was "the sound of a great many shots fired, more than a
>hundred perhaps."
>At the moment, the phrases "exchange of gunshots" etc., simply make for
>more excitement than what the evidence currently shows as having happened.
>Or people don't care what "exchange" means, an "exchange" that immediately
>became a "battle."
>Ultimately this will be a minor point, because the facts will come out.
>But this list is dedicated to such minor points.
>You'll remember, too, the indignation with which we were  told  again and
>again that George Zimmerman had used a "racial epithet" while following
>Trayvon Martin. It turns out that the sounds may not even have been words
>at all. But wouldn't it be so much more exciting if he'd really used them?
>On Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 10:44 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> > -----------------------
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> > Subject:      Re: "gunfight" and "exchange of gunfire"
> >
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > At 4/23/2013 07:41 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> > > > said they were being fired at.
> > >
> > >Like the National Guard at Kent State?
> > >
> > >A member of the SWAT team that arrested him told CNN this morning that
> > they
> > >approached the boat with caution when he surrendered because "we thought
> > he
> > >might have a weapon."
> >
> > Jon, you know better than this.  They thought he might have a weapon
> > before they approached him.  That is not evidence -- on either side
> > -- about whether he actually did have a gun.
> >
> >
> > >There may have been a gun. But people are claiming there was a gunfight
> > >when, so far, nobody's reported a gun.
> >
> > Both Victor and I have said there are "reports" he had a gun.  What
> > we perhaps lack (although surely others have, or can refute) is
> > reliable confirmation.
> >
> > Joel
> >
> >
> > >Even if there *was* a gun, so far there isn't any, if you catch my drift.
> > >"Gunfight," etc., were the wrong words.
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
>"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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