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April 21, 2017

The Elements of Bureaucratic Style

The term “officer-involved shooting” is a perfect example of bureaucratic speech:
It invariably is paired with an active verb (“an officer-involved shooting occurred”) and yet the entire purpose of the construction is to imbue the scene with passivity. Police did not kill anyone; a shooting just occurred and it happened to involve officers. There is no actor in an officer-involved shooting, and not even any real actions. We don’t even technically know who was shot, only that an officer was somehow involved. An entire syntactical arrangement consisting of a subject (“police”), a verb (“shot”), and an object (“a civilian”) are transmuted into a noun (“shooting”) with a compound adjective (“officer-involved”) attached. It’s almost as if nothing took place at all. - - Longreads

Posted by gerardvanderleun at April 21, 2017 8:49 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

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