Monday, March 29, 2010

Moscow bombed, CNN blames "women"

A terrorist attack in the Moscow subway system was perpetrated by two reportedly female suicide bombers.  CNN found it appropriate to communicate the relevant facts with "Women blamed in Moscow suicide blasts."  To see how backwards this headline is, imagine the consummately uninformative "Men blamed for 9/11."  I understand it's novel that the suicide bombers were female, but their womanhood was not responsible for their extremist views and actions, and is therefore not the salient point for inclusion in a headline, certainly not at the cost of including information on their political affiliation.  CNN and MSNBC are both notorious for bad online headlines.  I can't tell you how many times I've seen them describe a rape or sexual abuse case as a "sex scandal" (rape is no more a sex scandal than a robbery is a payola scheme), or drastically misrepresent the findings of scientific research.  To them I say: hire somebody better.  And to those victimized by the Moscow subway bombs (many of whom were also women), I say: I am so sorry, and you'll be in our thoughts.  I so wish we could learn to work out our differences without involving innocent civilians.  Next century, perhaps.

6 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. My "accusation" was, maybe, an overreaction, though as you said, it's a relevant news that the bombers were women. Also, the main problem is probably this: "including information on their political affiliation". I agree with you that the political issues might be more important than the gender of those people.

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  3. Right, let me rephrase my comment: I am not offended by the headline as a feminist, I just think it's terrible journalism, because it doesn't communicate the salient information of the story, which is what headlines are meant to do. But I also think that the actual tragedy at hand is much more important than my minor quibble with CNN, and our hearts go out to the victims and their loved ones.

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  4. Believe it or not, someone at my school newspaper wrote an op-ed called "Women Don't Do This" right after 9-11, which is pretty close to "Men Blamed for 9-11." http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2001/9/20/women-dont-do-this-on-sept/ It probably drew more letters-to-the-editor than any other op-ed I can recall.

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  5. Women have been employed as suicide bombers for a long time. When Muslims were bombing ice cream parlors and boardwalks in Algeria "european" looking women were often carrying the explosives in their purses. It is truly sad that these despicable acts are carried out, though, we certainly can learn from the history.

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  6. So, I was quite disappointed that the title of the NYT this morning was "Female Suicide Bombers Strike At Moscow Subway".

    However, there may be some justifications. First, this is one of the only certain thing about the identity of the bombers. Though it seems highly likely that they were coming from Southern Russia, I don't think it is sure yet, and what specific region they were coming from. People are even talking about Georgia.

    Then, the NYT runs this article. THis might be interesting to you here http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/world/europe/30blackwidows.html?ref=todayspaper. And the comment that "Women have been employed as suicide bombers for a long time" depends on your definition of "long time", they seem to say since 1985 in the article. Also, what would seem important is how frequent it is.

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