Let’s Call It What It Is

Take a look at the following opening sentence from an AP story on the crimes at Abu Ghraib:

WASHINGTON – Fresh photos showing American soldiers brutalizing Iraqi prisoners with snarling dogs or forced sex left members of Congress angry and disgusted…

Why beat around the bush? Why the careful avoidance of the obvious term for “forced sex”? The pictures show soldiers committing rape.

I guess the media is (once again) taking their cue from the administration. On Monday the Pentagon’s spokesperson simply said that the photos showed “inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature.” It doesn’t sound as bad as rape when you put it that way.

By the way, in case you were wondering (as I was) if the media simply tries to avoid using the term rape in general, the answer seems to be no. A quick search of Yahoo news turned up 11,707 recent news articles that use the word rape. But interestingly, almost none of them are about the crimes at Abu Ghraib.