Saturday, August 12, 2006

noun; deliberate exaggeration, not meant to be taken literally.

That's how the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines the word "hyperbole". Perhaps a suitable word to describe the preamble to a story I read in the tube in yesterday's Metro, reproduced verbatim here.

"The deadliest terror atrocity in history was foiled by British police yesterday. More than 4,000 people could have been killed if bombers had succeeded in blowing up ten flights from the UK to America - a death toll worse than September 11."

When compared with the deaths and depredation from the southern European conquest and pillage of South America, the Holocaust (which, incidentally, according to the OED, refers to the the killing of only one of Roma, Jews, Sinti and homosexuals etc. during World War II - I'd always imagined it covered all the victims of that part of our history) , the bombing of Nagasaki, the rampages of Gengiz Khan, the Vikings, the ancient Persians, the Arabs and Alexander the Great and many other bloody events, it pales into insignificance.

Especially when one remembers that it did not actually occur. So one might imagine the journalist would not have erred by starting his spiel with "The terror atrocity which, had it taken place, would have been the deadliest in history........".

However, when one reads further, one encounters our learned gentleman's yardstick - September 11.
(presumably a reference to the deaths which took place on that day in 2001 in the USA as a result of aircraft hijacking)
So perhaps he means - the deadliest terror atrocity involving aircraft in history.

But Nagasaki was pretty terrifying, wasn't it? As were Serbia/Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Lebanon.

So perhaps the preamble refers to - "what might have been the deadliest terror atrocity involving civilian aircraft.....".

NB: This blog is _about_ journalism. Not directly for op-eds on events. For that, Search The (F) Web, or buy a paper from your local newsagent.

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