Letter: Referring to crime victims as merely ‘transients’ is de-humanizing
To the editor,
Wondering what police reports and news stories would call me if I were a murder victim?
Like many of you, we were glued to our phones for the last 2 days, following the active shooter situation in Paso Robles. Some of the first news we received was of the tragic murder of an innocent person near the Paso Robles police station early Wednesday morning. On many news platforms, including the Paso Robles Daily News, the victim was referred to as, “a transient.” Not even written as, “a transient person.”
This dehumanizing language of someone that just fell victim to a horrible death shows our society’s hierarchical value system for human lives. This human being had strengths, value, worth, experience, and by referring to them with a write-off label like, “a transient,” the value of their life was not honored in their death.
This got us wondering what we’d be called if we were in the paper after a brutal murder– “a housed?” “A human?” “An innocent bystander?” We know our privilege of being housed means we would probably get a different description in police reports and news write-ups.
The victim in this story was a human being. Language is important, not semantics. Journalists should strive to uphold a victim’s dignity, no matter their position in our flawed social hierarchy.
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