Jumping To Conclusions

The news article reads like a scene from Marvel Comics. The Washington Post reports that a "French soldier [was] stabbed in neck by robed attacker" in Paris. Robed? You mean like Dr. Strange? Then follow a few more tantalizing details.

"The lone attacker was described as a young man wearing a Muslim prayer cap and a North African-style robe called a jellabah. According to a police account, he was monitored on security cameras and seen shedding his robe and fleeing in European clothes before disappearing into the crowd in a subway and suburban train entrance."

The Independent deepens the mystery by reporting that "French President Francois Hollande said the identity of the attacker, who escaped, was unknown and cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the assault on the uniformed soldier in the La Defense shopping area." Jumping to conclusions apparently is something that has very serious consequences,  as the very same Independent reports that two men were arrested for "allegedly making offensive comments on Twitter about the murder of a British soldier in Woolwich. Complaints were made to police about comments that appeared on the social networking website, which were of an allegedly racist or anti-religious nature."

Pity the readers who thought it was about robes. There is something definitely afoot, for despite the mystery about which we should not jump to conclusions the authorities seem to have a very definite idea what the actual words are which no one is allowed to utter. Any article using those specific words or phrases, none of which are supposed to spring to mind, is immediately punished, as Nick Robinson of the BBC found out.

The BBC's political editor has apologized for directly quoting a Whitehall source who described the Woolwich killers as being 'of Muslim appearance'. Nick Robinson said he was sorry for using the phrase, which 'was both liable to be misinterpreted and to cause offence', during the BBC News at Six broadcast yesterday.

How could they have known to punish Robinson for making that reference as opposed to saying "redneck American morons"? How did they know which key words to watch for? There appears to be something that everyone knows yet pretends not to know.

The same kind of bizarre game is being played by the press in the coverage of the riots in Stockholm, now going for almost a week. The Washington Post sets out five charts to explain Sweden's "youth riots." "The violent youth riots that spread across Stockholm’s suburbs this week seem at odds with the public perception of Sweden as one of the world’s most liberal and tolerant countries." We are told the "youth riots" are due to the relative underprivilege of the "foreign born."  But does the Post mean Chinese immigrants then? No they don't. The Washington Post knows what it means and we are supposed to know what it means, but we are not supposed to admit that we know what it means.