Monday, March 29, 2010

falsos positivos (yet again!)

I keep posting about this term because it drives me crazy. It is such a dangerous euphemism! I ran into another proposal for what to call them in the video above (which has a part two), where they suggest simply calling them 'state crimes'. Of course it's not just any crime, it's assassination, presented as a (fake) combat death. It occurs to me that "assassination by the state" is more clearly understandable, and sounds more like the crime that it is, than the more legalistic term I've suggested before of 'extrajudicial execution'. But neither implies that the dead are then presented as a fake combat kill. Thoughts?

Ojo, the video is melodramatic and the translation of the subtitles is not great, but it's still important good work worth watching.


Dan F. said...

Hey Sara, long time no comment...

Heheh, what a ridiculous video on an obviously super important subject. They go so out of their way to make Soacha sound totally sinister... "literally stuck onto Bogotá!!" So... it's a bordering suburb. The horror! Really, as I'm sure you know, Soacha is a very poor place but about half of Colombia is as bad or worse, nothing particularly exceptional about it.

I may be in the minority but I've always thought that "false positive" was a perfect term. Even in its original meaning, there is something chilling about that phrase, it brings to mind medical malpractice and scientific coldness towards suffering. Which parallels perfectly the kind of detached, statistical-minded military-speak that enables such atrocities. I'm starting to come around on calling the whole affair the "body-count scandal" but I still think the words "false positive" should appear in most English-language documents on the subject.

Sara Koopman said...

thanks Dan! you know I totally respect your takes on these things, so I'm going to chew on this one. I think it's precisely the coldness toward suffering that I don't want to be complicit in - but I agree that perhaps it's worth conveying. Maybe adding "so-called" manages to do both.