Maybe I'm an overly sensitive infidel but see if you can find what pisses me off about the following paragraph from Reuters.
RIYADH (Reuters) - Muslim leaders gather in the holy city of Mecca this week to find ways of tackling religious extremism, social challenges and political divisions which Saudi Arabia says have plunged the Islamic world in crisis.
Give up? "The holy city of Mecca"? Excuse me? When did that become a fact? Sure Mecca is "holy" to some people but it is not "holy" to most people. Indeed many would consider Mecca to be the opposite of holy.
Quick, which other cities does Reuters automatically and unself-consciously label "holy"? I can't think of one. Jerusalem? Rome? Kyoto? Salt Lake City? If I read that I'll let you know but I'm not holding my breath.
In the meantime, if you meet a reporter from Reuters, slap some sense into him.
Perhaps the Westeern media still refer to Karballah and Najaf as "holy cities." I was sickened daily to encounter that in the media shortly after Western forces entered the above cities. It's group-think and cliche mongering among semi-educated hacks. The world at large is not only dunned by this crap, they come to expect it as right.
If one were to refer to Najaf as a city in Iraq, the public generally now would automatically think "holycityofnajaf."
Words lose meaning when people misuse them to the point they cannot mean anything. Then, all we have left is noise and wind. Say what you like, and free speech for all: no one can understand it if it's been reduced to pablum by others for so long and strenuously that even sense is reduced from the start to automatic reinterpretation, missing words included: "Najaf" is automatically heard as "holycityofnajaf," as if the speaker were using verbal shorthand. If this catches on in the media, then Mecca will come to be, in the public mind "holycityofmecca." And good luck changing the mind of the average listener. He'll hear the soundless cliche in his own mind, and the speaker won't know till it's too late.
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