I woke up early yesterday morning; too early, so in an effort to lull myself back to sleep I turned the radio on.  The BBC World Service  news was holding all other stories waiting to switch to a live speech from President Obama.  It was in that half awake half light of just before dawn that I listened to the announcement of the killing of Bin Laden by US Special Forces.

Through the surreal quality of the experience one sentence in the speech stuck in my head.  …'[I] authorized an operation to get Osama Bin Laden and bring him to justice.’

The word ‘justice’ when used by the holder of high elected office, to me, brings with it an expectation of a judicial act, not a military one.

I don’t disagree with the outcome, but I wish there could be more honesty about what has just happened, especially in the words that are being used.  This was retribution, vengeance, revenge, state sponsored assassination, and I would have more respect for the actions and the people behind them if they could look steadily out from my television screen and speak the truth.

No effort was made to ‘bring him to justice’.  He was wanted ‘dead or alive’, and although that phrase was GW Bush’s, the ‘surgical strike’ and ‘fire fight’ last night lived up to the Wild West imagery of ‘instant rough justice’.

I am a freedom fighter, you are a terrorist.  I seek justice, you wreak revenge.

Maybe I am splitting hairs, but words are important, and the choice of vocabulary matters.

Meanwhile, the first headline I saw on my home page when I logged on to the internet yesterday morning was ‘Celebrities’ reactions to death of OBL’.   So I  must away and check in on what Posh and Becks have to say about the news.

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  1. margaret nickels

     /  May 3, 2011

    the Matt cartoon in todays Telegraph neatly sums up a great deal about our crazy society.

    • Found it finally on line – yes, Matt always manages to nail it, doesn’t he?

  2. brendan stallard

     /  May 3, 2011

    “splitting hairs”


    No, telling it like it is. One of the few voices offering a sober response.

    I was just going to bed when the news hit twitter, that was 2230 hours EST. I stayed up for Potus speech. I decided not to wake spouse with the news.

    “state sponsored assassination”

    That’s what it was. Calling it straight and true. Remember all of the hand wringing when Litvinenko was offed?


    • Hi Brendan, as more details emerge the more troubled I am by that initial statement. I’m not sure I’d be quite so measured now, so it was probably good that I’ve ‘done’ the topic now. Sight of jubilant crowds in NYC deeply unedifying – all they needed was a few guns to shoot off into the air and they would look identical to crowd scenes in Mid East countries that are so condemned by Western media.
      It’s a dirty game.


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