Rhetorical Pitfalls of Careless “Abuse” Reportage (40 Years’ Worth)

Posted on December 30, 2017


To beg the question, a phrase whose semantic decay journalists are as culpable for as anyone, means to avoid the question. It means to assume, and assumption is reportorial sacrilege.


  • Allegations “facts”;
  • An accuser a “victim”;
  • Repeated allegations of abuse or violence a “history of abuse” or a “history of violence”;
  • A spike in allegations of violence an “escalation of violence”; and
  • Rampant allegations of violence an “epidemic of violence.”

Decades of complacency by society’s watchdogs have permitted the rise of a system of laws in which, for example, what is called “violence” may be nonviolent. With their cooperation, if not their blessing, language itself has been jettisoned down the rabbit hole. To point a finger today is ipso facto to be nominated a “victim,” requiring that a victim be relabeled a “survivor,” a word formerly suitable to constructions like these only: “Holocaust survivor,” “cancer survivor,” “shooting survivor.” Today, “rape survivor,” “domestic abuse survivor,” and even “peer abuse survivor” are common, which phrases suggest most victims of these forms of abuse are killed. They are not.

Similarly, what was yesterday called critical commentary would now be denounced as insensitive—if not “violent.”

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