“The Philadelphia Inquirer” calls for us to use a different word than “manifesto” to describe the Buffalo shooter’s writing

“The Grammarian” is a columnist with the “Inquirer.” He argues the dictionary definitions of “manifesto” elevate the Buffalo shooter’s rantings.

The eighteen-year-old accused of killing ten people at a grocery store last week in Buffalo wrote a hundred-eighty pages of racist and deplorable literature leading up to the crime. The Philadelphia Inquirer, though, says it is unethical to refer to this diatribe as a “manifesto,” like so many mass media outlets have done (including the Inquirer itself). NPR is quoted in this column as saying, “‘Not using the word ‘Manifesto’ in no way deprives our audience of information, it helps deprive the shooter of the platform he was looking for.'”

The shooter “seeks to be an ‘individual … of public relevance’ — a status we’d rather not grant him,” writes “The Grammarian” about the first dictionary definition of the word “manifesto” he discusses here. “If it’s the second, then his screed’s propoundment of the ‘great replacement’ theory — a racist assertion that white people are being ‘replaced’ in America and Europe by nonwhites — suddenly becomes a ’cause,’ and we also shouldn’t grant him that.” The news has come a long way since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, when shock rocker Marilyn Manson castigated them in Rolling Stone for making “folk heroes” out of those two murderers, but until violence in America becomes a thing of the past, we must always critically deconstruct these stories at the word level.