The BBC's Editorial guidelines on the use of the word "terrorism"
We must report acts of terror quickly, accurately, fully and responsibly. Our credibility is undermined by the careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgements. The word "terrorist" itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should try to avoid the term without attribution. We should let other people characterise while we report the facts as we know them.
We should not adopt other people's language as our own. It is also usually inappropriate to use words like "liberate", "court martial" or "execute" in the absence of a clear judicial process. We should convey to our audience the full consequences of the act by describing what happened. We should use words which specifically describe the perpetrator such as "bomber", "attacker", "gunman", "kidnapper", "insurgent, and "militant". Our responsibility is to remain objective and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments about who is doing what to whom.
Sorry, but I call "bullshit". A dictionary definition
of terrorism reads as follows
The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.
The BBC may like us to believe that the use of the word "terrorist" is a "barrier to understanding", but in fact it accurately describes a distinct criminal action.
The BBC would prefer to use words like "bomber", "attacker", "gunman", "kidnapper", "insurgent", and "militant"
however, far from clarifying the motivation of the perpetrator and the nature of his crime, these words are - at best - vague. At worse they are willfully misleading.
Bomber, attacker, gunman & kidnapper may describe the action, but do not provide a political or ideological context that necessary to understand the nature of the crime.
Bombers, attackers, gunmen & kidnappers could easily refer to people motivated by non-political factors. "Millitant" just describes people who are pissed off.
Of course the public is usually bright enough to know that a guy named Abu Fanatic suicide bombing a market place in tel Aviv isn't doing it to extort money from the market stall holders, but when the BBC uses the word "bomber", they do so to avoid offending people who see the random murder of unsuspecting civilians as "an act of resistance".
They might argue that "terrorist" is an emotionally loaded term. It isn't. An emotive term would be "deranged, murderous culty". The word "terrorist" simply describes a civilian who murders others for ideological or political aims.
Would the BBC be as sensitive to the opinions of child molesters? Would the BBC say that the use of the word "Pedophile" is a barrier to understanding? Would they describe them as "differently sexualised" or say that a person has a "child-centric" sexuality? I hope not.
Just as I hope they stop pandering to the sensitivities of people who see the random murder of civilians going about their business as "resistance".