Patt Morrison for Jun 26, 2009

Calling a Spade a Spade: Use of the Word "Torture"

"Harsh interrogations," "abusive techniques," "so-called torture" - which is it and why does it matter who says it? Salon's Glenn Greenwald criticized NPR in his blog post this week for not using the word "torture" to characterize the treatment of detainees in U.S. Custody. NPR says journalists are in a no-win situation when it comes to the T-word. Is it thoughtful or gutless? We hear reasoning from NPR's ombudsman as well as some analysis from linguist Geoffrey Nunberg on the gravity of words. When DO they matter?

Alicia Shepard, NPR's Ombudsman
Geoffrey Nunberg, professor of linguistics at UC Berkeley, author most recently of The Years of Talking Dangerously

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