Saturday, December 20, 2008

Self-described blogger

One brief note here on the (still ongoing) Greek riots.

Why do so many news reports use the following construction about some of the protestors: self-described anarchists.

It implies either that the anarchists are just kidding, that they're fibbing (maybe they're really commies or neo-liberals in balaclavas?) or that they're in some other way not really anarchists.

Alternatively, it could be an attempt to discredit them. You know, maybe they didn't fill out their Anarchist Youth League membership cards properly. Maybe they didn't send the forms off to be approved by the Official World Anarchist Federation.

Or maybe it's one of those reporter tics that get used once and prove infectious. If I had to guess, it started in 1999 in Seattle, when anarchists showed up on the news after a couple of decades of absence. Reporters used the phrase "self-described anarchists" because they were baffled that anyone would use such a descriptor. They had no idea what it really meant. And then it spread, a stupid meme.

Reporters write fast, and we're particularly prone to this kind of crap. Still, it saddens me that after two solid weeks of protest and riots in Greece, I still haven't seen anyone do anything in the mainstream media that goes much beyond the depth of "self-described anarchists."