Paul Diamond’s post below makes an interesting contrast with the latest remarks by Michael Ignatieff, former Harvard prof, BBC upmarket telly host, and currently Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in Ottawa. Mr Ignatieff was clarifying his Liberal colleague Justin Trudeau’s assertion that it was inappropriate to describe “honor killings” as “barbaric” rather than “totally unacceptable“. The prof’s view is that there’s no such thing as “honor killings”:
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff said: “Let’s not play word games with this stuff . . . There’s no such thing as an honour killing, there’s only killing and it’s a crime everywhere,” he said.
Unfortunately, in wacky Pakistan, “moderate” Jordan and many places in between, the law distinguishes between “killing” (which is a crime) and killing a woman because she’s dishonored your family (which often gets reported as a suicide or accident or, if brought to court at all, results in acquittal or desultory six-month sentences). Indeed, failing to commit an honor killing is itself a form of dishonor – hence, this vignette of life in Egypt after its glorious Facebook Revolution:
The father of the Muslim woman was killed by his cousin because he did not kill his daughter to preserve the family’s honor, which led the woman’s brother to avenge the death of his father by killing the cousin. The village Muslims blamed the Christians.
Who’s playing “word games” here? “Honor killing” is itself a euphemism useful in backward societies that regard half their human capital as chattels whose best-before date is preserved by only taking them out in extensive gift-wrap. But western leaders should not be so neutered by political correctness that they feel obliged to euphemize the euphemisms. The old Ignatieff, the furrowed-browed black-polonecked BBC telly thinker of 20 years ago, would have despised the jelly-spined pandering identity-group wardheeler liberal politics has made of him.