|Heads of French aristocrats on pikes.|
OK, let's get this out of the way.
When you fly airplanes into building because you want to make a point and scare lots of people in the process you're a terrorist.
When you're running around killing people in white sheets and hooded masks because you want to make a point and scare lots of people in the process you're a terrorist.
And, yes, when you're shooting up an area and kill numerous people because you want to make a point and scare lots of people in the process you're a terrorist.
The person in the Wild West who shot someone because they cheated him at cards is not a terrorist.
The person who walks in on a cheating spouse and kills the idiot who's there is not a terrorist.
The person who shoots and kills someone during a bank robbery is also not a terrorist.
Not many people are familiar with the history of the term, but the word terrorism is derived from the French terrorisme. It was first popularly used to describe state policy during the French Revolution's "Reign of Terror" (from March 1793 through July 1794). This period was famous for the rise of Maximilien Robespierre, the invention of the guillotine, and the mass murder of "enemies of the revolution."
While the term was originally used to describe state sponsored terror, it's now used to describe the killing of many innocent people simply because someone has an ideology or wants to make a point and - for numerous reasons - get their jollies scaring or terrorizing large groups of people in the process.
What's critical here is not so much the result of the act - killing lots of people because you're annoyed or disagree with someone - as much as the response to the result: Killing lots of people, and then getting a large number of innocent people to cower or live in fear. Getting people to cower and fear is the real goal.
This is what terrorism is about.
This is why we need to start thinking about how the media - and especially cable TV - has been callously manipulating the term "terrorist" for some time now in the United States.
What's at issue today is how pundits and assorted media hacks made it clear how they wanted to describe what happened in San Bernardino versus how they described the Planned Parenthood attack in Colorado.
Simply put, because the names sounded like they were from the Middle East we were told almost immediately that the San Bernardino shootings were done by possible terrorists. You and I know why. It doesn't matter that the issues surrounding the attack may have been work related.
The guy in Colorado, however, was clearly labeled a disturbed lone wolf - as were "lone wolves" Ted Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh (who wasn't actually alone).
Worse, when guns are involved with the "lone wolves" they are referred to as a "lone gunmen" - as was the case with the shooting in Seattle Pacific University. Then there was the "mass shooting" performed by the "lone gunman" at UC Santa Barbara. No terror there, right?
And what are we to make of Cliven Bundy's "armed standoff" against the BLM? It was patriotically taken up by "Sovereign Citizens" because, you know, that's what patriots do when they're defending the rights of someone who's been mooching off of federal land for pennies on the dollar for years.
And let's not forget the attacks and murders perpetrated by extreme Christians and others that weren't labeled terrorism, but could have been if we used the medias current slippery slope in San Bernardino.
There's more. But you get the point.
If we're going to use the term, we should get it right, for everyone.