Question for Media Labels: Who Qualifies as a Terrorist?


What do you call a couple who espouse an extremist, anti-government ideology and kill two policemen and a bystander while draping one of their victims in a flag associated with a political movement, asks the Washington Post. After Sunday's shooting spree perpetrated by just such a couple in Las Vegas, many in the media declined to use one potential label: terrorists. Jerad and Amanda Miller, the young Nevada couple who fatally shot three people before killing themselves, were enamored of a right-wing, conspiratorial view of federal authority, according to law enforcement officials.

They killed two police officers as the two men quietly ate lunch, and covered one of the bodies with a Nazi swastika and a “Don't Tread on Me” flag. The pair shouted about “revolution” as they moved to a nearby Wal-Mart, where Amanda Miller shot a customer who tried to stop them. That shorthand description would seem to qualify the Millers as terrorists. Yet few media accounts have described the Millers as terrorists or their actions as terrorism, and that has prompted suggestions of a double standard.

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