Attila the Pun
Friday, July 16, 2004
Leunig the Mad
I have written before regarding my opinion of Leunig.  But his latest 'effort' is outrageous.  I understand that he is attempting to 'provoke', but labelling the Prime Minister of Australia as a war criminal is simply unacceptable.
There has been much written lately about the debasing of the language, and this is a symptom of it.  I do not think (though I cannot be sure) that Leunig thinks that Howard is a war criminal and deserves to hang or spend the rest of his life in jail, but he is applying the tag for shock value.  The problem with that (aside from the incredible slur against his character) is that when labels are used innappropriately, their power fades, until they lose the shock value that they require.
A perfect example of this is the word genocide.  Genocide (or attempted genocide) is the attempted destrcution of an entire race or culture.  It should not be used every time a war occurs.  To do so devalues the times (e.g. WWII, Rwanda) when it did occur. 
The only thing that angers me more is the use of the phrase "ethnic cleansing" when attempted genocide is occuring.  I have never understood why the media picked up and used this phrase.  It is a euphemism invented by those perpetrating genocide, we should not be partially complicit in it by going along with it.
Back to my main point. Hitler was a war criminal, Stalin was a war criminal, Pol Pot was a war criminal.  Saddam Hussein is a war criminal (though I cannot find a Leunig cartoon which states this)  John Howard, no matter what his faults, is not a war criminal.   To suggest he is means the phrase loses all meaning whatsoever.

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