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<p>We have already talked about how some media organizations told their journalists not to label post-George Floyd violence as "riot", including the recently much derided headline on CNN that looting and violence in Kenosha was "fiery, but." mostly peaceful ". Now CNN editor-in-chief Chris Cillizza is under fire for criticizing President Donald Trump for calling the violence in places like Kenoska "riot". Critics have noted that the picture Cillizza posted with his tweet shows a building submerged in flames. Lawyers notoriously analyze terms in ways that often deny their obvious meaning, but these efforts by some media outlets would make a Philadelphia lawyer blush.</p>
<p>Cillizza tweeted "Trump's efforts to label what is happening in big cities as" unrest "speak at least something to his current political desperation."</p>
<p>I do not deny that both sides are using this unrest for political purposes. Trump is using violence to reinforce a law and order issue, while Democratic politicians blame him for the violence and demand that the 2020 election be a referendum on racial justice.</p>
<p>It's the parsing of the term that fascinates me. In Portland, Portland police reportedly declared 13 riots in 80 days. Newspapers in these cities have spoken of riots from Portland to Minneapolis to Kenosa. David Brown, the superintendent of the Chicago Police, said, "This was not an organized protest, it was an incident of pure crime."</p>
<p>Recent coverage of looting and rioting has been inconsistent, with networks like CNN spending comparatively little time covering the violence while Fox covers it at length. Other outlets like NPR have had segments on how the word "riot" has racial roots. If there is a riot depends on what news source you use. It is the new reality of echo journalism.</p>
<p>Of course, this dispute revolves around a noun that is clearly defined as "public violence, tumult or disorder".</p>
<p>The law often enables subtle distinctions, such as those discussed by Blackstone in his famous account of a case where English is spoken <span class=dish interpreted a 1547 statute criminalize the theft of "HorsesNot applicable if a defendant stole just one horse. William M. Blackstone, 1 comments * 88. Parliament had to pass a new one statute Cover a horse thief.

Such arguments often lead to frustrating moments in court or statements like this exchange:

D: What do you mean by "photocopier"?

PL: Let me be clear. The term "photocopier" is so ambiguous that you cannot imagine what a photocopier is in an office setting.

It seems that mental unrest is just as difficult to imagine, even with a building on fire in the background.

Courts often apply a single-meaning rule to such terms. Justice Antonin Scalia once said in a dissenting opinion that “the acid test of whether a word can reasonably endure a certain word meaning is whether you could use the word with that in mind at a cocktail party without people looking at you funny. ”He noted that in this case,“ (t) he dishIs assigned meaning would certainly not pass this test even late in the evening. “Johnson v USA, 529, US 694, 718 (2000) (Scalia, J., Dissens). We haven't checked a dictionary since “ Are defined "Device" to include an animal "that dish ruled out a DUI with a "vehicle" that turned out to be a horse.

Nevertheless, the courts continue to grapple with questions such as whether a horse is a "device". In one case, the court investigated a DUI case based on the Utah definition of a vehicle as "any device on or on which a person or property can or may be transported or towed on a freeway". State v. Blowers, 717 pp. 2d 1321 (Utah 1986).

Just as "a rose with another name would smell so sweet" in Shakespeare, a riot with another name would seem just as violent.

We have discussed the concern of many that networks like CNN shape the news to fit a narrative. Fox and MSNBC were accused of the same practice. According to various surveys, many in the public do not know where to turn left or right for unbiased reporting. Even if the majority of citizens recognize the importance of the media to our system, they believe that the media is actively misrepresenting the facts. About half consider the media to be biased.

That's why.

That is, of course, looting and rioting. Ironically, trying to call his "fiery protests" only undermines the majority of peaceful protesters. It's not that difficult. You acknowledge the looting and rioting while saying that the majority of the protesters remain peaceful. While it doesn't fit a particular narrative, it has the added benefit of being true.

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