Monday, February 04, 2008

Suicide Attack Kills One

Too tired to really blog today, but found myself thinking about this headline over at the NY Times. The first time I read it, I thought to myself - now there's a particularly ineffective suicide attack. It turns out what they mean is that the attack killed one person in addition to the suicide bomber.

Am I the only person who finds this confusing? Does the death of the suicide bomber himself not count because he's a terrorist? Or a Palestinian? Or is it because the victim is the only person 'killed', the bomber choosing to die (so that, for instance, it would be two die in suicide bombing but only one killed), and if so, shouldn't it be suicide attacker kills one (so that the act kills two but the actor kills one - or is it valid to conflate the actor and the act?)? Or is the logic that calling it a 'suicide attack' implies that one person died anyway, so that counting the bomber among the people killed would be redundant (sort of like saying 'the firefighter rescued one person from the fire' - meaning one other person, his rescue of himself being implied), which, of course, makes me wonder whether there is such a thing as an unsuccessful suicide attack and whether an attack that kills no one but the suicide bomber would be called successful or unsuccessful?

15 comments:

Confused & Baffled said...

and to think, there were days when that sentence would have made perfect sense. as it was meant to occur, it did.

??! said...

Ummm...falsie, you must be tired. Haven't you read headlines that go "failed suicide attempts"?

Yes - the word suicide attack does imply that the bomber also died. A suicide is by definition a death. If it isn't completed, it's called an "attempt".

km said...

No, ??!, every time we reach work at 8AM, we die a little. Not a successful suicide, but we do die. A little.

??! said...

Partial suicides? And work at 7 am makes it what?

Falstaff said...

c&b: True.

??!: Ah, but a failed suicide attempt is different from a failed suicide attack, no? After all, the main objective of a suicide attempt is to kill yourself, so success and failure is easily defined. But with a suicide attack the main objective is to kill someone else, your own death is just incidental, which makes the question of what is failure or success murky. If someone tries a suicide attack and succeeds in killing himself, but not in harming anyone else, is that successful / not? Or is it a successful attempt and an unsuccessful attack?

km: Ah, getting lyrical are we? And what do you mean 'we'? I may be working hard but I would NEVER get to work by 8 AM. I have my integrity.

lekhni said...

I would really like to see "Suicide attack kills no one".

I wonder how they would report it. Would they call it a "failed suicide attempt"? Isn't attempting suicide the failure? So isn't failing suicide really about winning back life?

Chevalier said...

Wrong grammar by NYT. And not the first time.

A Case of the 'Suicide attack' vs. the 'Suicide attacker'....

Chevalier said...

And if I launch some kind of public-awareness campaign against suicide, am I a suicide attacker?

Anyone who disagrees with me in life (about anything), they're definitely suicidal. They're suicidal attackers?

Atticus Finch said...

Haha!!! Good one!

And found from the linked article (yeah, I have THAT much time on a Wednesday afternoon) that two suicide attacker died in the attempt. Unfortunate that practice does not make perfect in this case :)

the saint said...

What the heading implies is that the action of a person or persons has led to the death of one person. The heading is not at all talking about the suicide bomber or bombers, it rather talking about their action.

I guess you aren’t filling your system (esp. cerebral cortex) with enough caffeine. :)

the saint said...

it is rather talking about the result of their action(attack)on the target*

Falstaff said...

lekhni: Yes, that would be nice. Though the "attempting suicide as failure" bit is a little too ideological for me.

chevalier: Yes, some angles I hadn't thought about.

atticus: Thanks

saint: Read post again. If it's talking about the action then it should be kills two people - why would you exclude the person committing the act from its consequences? And if it comes to that, surely it's the bomber's intention to kill himself. so in what sense is he himself not a 'target'?

the saint said...

Suppose USA attacks Iran and the headline next day says, “Military attack kills one thousand”. This doesn’t mean USA military dint suffer any casualty. They might have or they might not have, but the headline isn’t reference to the military casualties. It is unclear about the fate of attackers. Rather it is telling us the effect of the attack on the target. The same reasoning can be applied to the headline to which you have alluded in your post. The point of notice is that the military or suicide, are words used to describe the kind of attack not a reference to the fate of the attackers.

the saint said...

You can though argue that the headline is incomplete (mind you, it still doesn’t make it ambiguous), but then isn’t most headlines are meant to be like this?

tangled said...

"Attempted Suicide Attack"?