Bad Headline of the Day

The New York Times wins for "Afghans Avenge Florida Koran Burning, Killing 12."

The New York Times wins for “Afghans Avenge Florida Koran Burning, Killing 12.”

While granting that there are definitions of “avenge” that fit, the word connotes justice for a wrong committed. Some moron exercising his free speech rights does not in any way justify mayhem and murder–much less ten days after the fact.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. john personna says:

    I think it’s a valid headline because it captures what the Afghans think they are doing. No doubt combined with some simple mob insanity.

  2. William Teach says:

    No doubt in the minds of the Leftists at the Fish Wrap, burning the Koran was just as bad as the killings.

  3. James Joyner says:

    @john personna

    Since when do we write headlines based on what evil people think they’re doing when they commit crimes?

    “Charlie Manson Strikes Blow For White People Everywhere on Eve of Race War”

    “Adolf Hitler Saves Europe From Jewish Scourge”

    “Jesus Kills 7 Using Crazy Person As His Instrument”

  4. john personna says:

    What I’m saying is, we understand more (not less) about the Afghan situation when we say they struck for vengeance.

    I certainly agree that violence is an evil, and I am even harsh enough to say that violent societies are evil societies.

    But what, should we pretend that the Afghan mob was driven by bad lamb stew?

  5. Also, their mayhem isn’t directed at the parties responsible for the wrong that supposedly has them so incensed. If they attacked Terry Jones’s church, it could be accurately described as vengence (not justified vengence, but vengence). Going around killing essentially random people, not so much.

  6. matt says:

    I’m reasonably sure all of Afghanistan is not involved…

  7. PD Shaw says:

    Times Murders English Language
    But Words Don’t Kill, People Do

  8. PD Shaw says:

    matt’s point is good too. John Personna, you’re implying that the murdurers here speak for all Afghans, which sounds a little close to the book burners point.

    12 UN Workers Slaughtered
    Motivated by Koran Burning Incident

  9. G.A.Phillips says:

    You wanna make a bet on how many of these crazy bastards can even read a freaking Koran? I blame Islam and it’s clerics!

  10. TG Chicago says:

    I disagree with Joyner on the larger point (I believe Jones has true moral culpability for the murders he intentionally incited), but I agree that this headline is absolutely the wrong framing.

    We can debate whether or not Jones is in any way responsible for the violence he knowingly incited, but surely we can all agree that the greatest evil here (by far) is the murder of innocents. This headline does not capture that truth.