27 people injured by elderly man driving a car through a crowd

Car Drives Into Crowd at Connecticut Festival, Injuring 27

These headline always strike me as a little wierd in that it seems to imply that the car did this on its own. Two of these 27 people from this tragedy are apparently in very serious condition and it is not yet clear what will happen with them. It is ironic that the article has an advertisement for "AARP Auto Insurance," but there is no discussion in the article about allowing elderly people to drive. It seems to me that several of these cases recently involve older drivers. One exception was the case in North Carolina where a Muslim used his SUV to attack non-Muslims. In any case, could one imagine the news coverage if a gun had been used to wound 27 people?


Anonymous Mike said...

My Dear Dr. Lott:

You are quite correct. The press uses language quite selectively. In this case, a car drove into 27 people. The grammatically correct formulation would be that an elderly man drove a car into 27 people, but of course, we can't blame an elderly driver, unless of course, it is know that he is a Bush supporter, in which case, Karl Rove was doubtless behind it all along.

This is, as you suggested, quite like the use by the press of the term "gun violence." This is, of course, a logical and grammatic impossibility. Inanimate objects may be used in the commission of violence, but they cannot commit violence. We don't see press consistency in this or much else or we would see stories about "knife violence," "fist violence," "baseball bat violence," or even "car violence." Interesting that that only inanimate object consistently personified by the press is the gun.

I wouldn't look for the press to use the language any more precisely any time soon.

7/08/2006 10:20 PM  

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