More Precisely

I’ve heard this report a number of times, each account prominently using the term “accidentally” to describe the U.S. armed forces’ killing of nine Afghani civilians. Would it not be more precise to say that the military mistakenly killed the civilians? It’s hard for me to see how dropping a bomb on some buildings and killing the wrong people counts as an “accident.” The military deliberately bombed the buildings; it wasn’t, so far as I can tell, a matter of a clumsy pilot hitting the “bomb” button instead of the “left turn signal” button.

2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I think they were trying for “unintentionally.” They weren’t going after civilians (we assume), but the civilians are, inconveniently, pretty much everywhere.

  2. this is one of my pet peeves in teaching elementary kids: they will say, when they’ve done something clearly contary to whatever the instruction was, that they “accidentally” did whatever they did e.g. “i accidently drew on both sides of the paper/erased the line/used a crayon, etc.” it goes along with “i forgot” when called on, having wildly waved their hand to answer a guestion, even though they have no idea of any answer. and if you think this kind of connection trivial to the discussion, think again: where, precisely do children come by these phrases? i think it somehow suggests to them that they can’t be held responsible for their actions, while also underscroring their uneasiness about any accountability for even the most of trivial them. anything can blow up and get me in trouble, so better to disavow knowledge of anything at all.

    it’s one of the most difficult attitudes to instill, isn’t it, responsibility–whether big or small.

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