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Via Adam Serwer‘s blog, the Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent offers a handy explanation for why the New York Times‘ decision not to describe U.S. waterboarding as “torture” reveals bias:

Think of it this way: We all agree that pickpocketing constitutes “theft.” A pickpocket doesn’t get to come along and argue: “No, what I did isn’t theft, it’s merely pickpocketing, and therefore it isn’t illegal.” Any newspaper that played along with a pickpocket’s demand to stop using the word “theft” would be taking the pickpocket’s side, not occupying any middle ground. There is no middle ground here.

Remember that the next time the media calls intimate partner violence and sexual assault by any-other-name. When a publication calls rape “sex,” it is not reserving judgment before trial. When it describes an accused assailant as “a loose cannon” and a “bad boy,” it is not adding color. When it characterizes self-defense after sexual assault as a “bar fight,” it is not being fair. It’s taking sides.