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Today's language lesson

I've written before about my dedication to language. Another way in which that manifests itself is in how much I get bothered when I see or hear words being misused, especially when it's done deliberately for purely political reasons.

For example, let's look at the word "vigilante."

Originally, it meant "member of a vigilance committee," and it has evolved to refer to private citizens acting in a law-enforcement capacity without official sanction. Nowadays, though, it's evolved into a pejorative term, usually applied to those who advocate enforcing laws others don't like.

Here are a few examples:

1) A group of citizens band together to watch for people breaking the law by entering the United States illegally, and then notify law enforcement officials about the actions: not vigilantes. They are not enforcing the law directly, simply observing and reporting.

2) A police chief, fed up with federal apathy about illegal aliens, finds a novel application of existing law and arrests a Mexican who sneaked across the border for "criminal trespass": not a vigilante. The chief is a licensed law enforcement officer; he is authorized and, indeed, required to enforce the laws by the government.

3) A man, fed up with people violating parking rules in his neighborhood, starts keying cars, spraypainting cars, smearing them with chocolate syrup, spray paint or dog feces, and various other punishments: this guy IS a vigilante.

I'm a smidgen sympathetic with Mr. Feest. I've been tempted to deal with parking idiots on my own. But I haven't, and I'm not about to.

Here's hoping the law jumps on Mr. Feest with both feet over this. I think they will -- Massachusetts might have a history of giving weekend passes to convicted murderers serving life sentences and letting guys who leave a woman to drown in a car off with a suspended jail term and their license revoked, but this guy is a right-wing nut. He's doomed.


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Comments (10)

FYI, you have linked to pag... (Below threshold)
Jim:

FYI, you have linked to page 2 of the article.

I've often thought about getting some bird seed for those that can't park in our company parking garage. Just toss some bird seed onto the cars (doing no damage to the cars myself) and letting nature take it's course.

He'll probably get a job at... (Below threshold)

He'll probably get a job at ISD and start getting paid for it.

>this guy IS a vigilante.</... (Below threshold)

>this guy IS a vigilante.

Or an artist?

I'd say that he was neither... (Below threshold)
htom:

I'd say that he was neither a vigilantee nor an artist. He's a vandal, destroying other's property. If he had organized the neighborhood into putting boots on violator's cars, or calling tow trucks to take violators away, or ... but this is vandalism with the "rationalization" of law enforcement.

Committees of Vigilance traditionally only operated where the law wasn't (or was corrupt itself.)

It's about time someone loo... (Below threshold)
minnie:

It's about time someone looked at the way the Moonbats are misusing the phrase "Culture of Life" too.

When properly used it refers only to embryos less than a few weeks old, but they keep trying to misapply it to Iraqi children with their arms blown off and their faces melted by precision gelled-gasoline incendiary devices. Some of those children were several years old, which isn't even close to the original meaning of the word.

minnie, thanks for providin... (Below threshold)
penny:

minnie, thanks for providing that "culture of life" definition which could clearly place you outside of a culture of logic definition.

your point , i assume, was to be a cleverly encripted anti-war message. it has moonbattedness written all over it. where you as concerned about iraqi's culture/quality of life in the Saddam years? got any opinions on the "culture of life" right now for christians in the sudan?

Yep, guy's not a vigilante.... (Below threshold)
slim999:

Yep, guy's not a vigilante.

For him to be a vigilante, he'd have to be TOWING illegally parked cars away.

Keying cars is just petty vandalism.

Thus endeth the lesson... (Below threshold)
slim999:

Thus endeth the lesson

>I'd say that he was neithe... (Below threshold)

>I'd say that he was neither a vigilantee nor an artist.

htom, you're a philistine. The man is a great avant-garde artist. The magnificent sweep of his arm as he scrapes the key down the side of your Ferrari, the bold denouncement of your capitalist lifestyle summed up in the flick of his wrist... Oh for God sakes. Did you really think I was serious? Course he's a friggin' vandal.

Ah, yes. minnie is back to ... (Below threshold)
fatman:

Ah, yes. minnie is back to his/her/it's off-topic rants. All's right with the world again.




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