When ‘Terrorists’ Aren’t Terrorists: The Danger of Twisting Words to Suit Our Politics

Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges testifies during the opening hearing of the U.S. House (Select) Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 27, 2021. (Jim Bourg/Pool/Reuters)
The Capitol-riot probe offers only the latest instance — civil discourse is dying because we’ve given up seeking objective truth.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T here are some truths we grasp innately. Others are just truths about words — things that are true because of the way we define them. Let nature take its course, and a pack of dogs will sort itself into the dominant and submissive roles. But a private is not the lowest-ranking soldier by nature. He is subordinate by definition — we’ve defined private as the lowest rank.

This distinction is common in the law. In fact, in the criminal law, the distinction touches on the nature of evil itself. We draw a categorical line between malum in se and malum prohibitum,

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