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Words, June 26

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Author and former prosecuting attorney Vincent Bugliosi on the proper use of “alleged”:

“Throughout this book [Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy] I will be referring to Oswald as Kennedy's killer, and conspiracy theorists, as well as legal purists, have maintained for years that the only proper way to refer to Oswald is ‘alleged assassin,' on the rationale that under our system of justice in America, a suspect or defendant is presumed to be innocent until a jury finds him guilty in a court of law. But this invests a power and legitimacy to a verdict of guilty or not guilty that it does not have. A verdict of not guilty, for instance, cannot change the reality of whether or not the defendant committed the crime. That reality was established the moment of the crime, and nothing that happened thereafter can ever change it. … To those who have challenged my calling Oswald guilty throughout the years by saying he was never found to be guilty in a court of law, I've responded that ‘under that theory, Adolf Hitler never committed any crimes, Jack the Ripper never committed any crimes, and the only crime Al Capone ever committed was income tax evasion.' ”

He's uncommonly sensible for a person with a law degree.

 

An unsubstantiated rumor circulated on the Internet that Michelle Obama had used the word “whitey” while speaking from the pulpit of a black church. She and her husband vigorously denied it. Dawn Turner Trice, a black columnist, wrote in the Chicago Tribune that until she began reading on-line comments about the Obama rumor, she hadn't heard “whitey” used in years.

“It's impossible to know for sure the exact race of the people posting,” Trice said, “but reading the many references to ‘whitey' over the last several weeks, I've wondered whether the term is making a comeback or whether white people just believe people of color use it more often than is the case.” The latter, I suspect.  

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