Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cause and responsibility

Yesterday a woman working at RFSL, the Swedish LGBT rights organisation, was attacked by a man with an axe. Apparently he came into their office and asked her some questions, and during their conversation he took out an axe and attacked her with it. He hit her in the head.

I heard about this on the radio while driving home from work. The thing that struck me was that the reporter said "It's not known what caused the attack".

Beg to differ.

First, to quote my favourite M.D. - it's got an ass, technically that makes it a who.

The idea that the cause of the attack is unknown is ridiculous. The attack was caused by the man taking up an axe. Now, the reason may be unknown, though at a guess it was homophobia. But the cause isn't some anonymous thing that forced the man to take up the axe. It was his choice. It was a person who chose to do this. It wasn't the victim's fault, or the RFSL's, or anyone elses. Noone else caused the attack.

It really bugs me when reporters use words that take the responsibility away from the perpetrator in that way. By talking about "what caused it", they're saying that it wasn't his own actions that were to blame, it was some unknown cause for which he bears no responsibility. And that's just plain wrong.

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