Friday, June 02, 2006

The Steady Demise of Meaning

Today, on MSN's money page there appeared a story about the persistent damages inflicted on Prince William Sound by the toxic residues of the Exxon Valdez' encounter with a submerged reef.

Exxon resists claim for more oil spill cash

ExxonMobil on Thursday refuted the US government's claim that it should pay $92m more to clean up Alaska 17 years after he Exxon Valdez tanker accident resulted in the US's largest oil spill.
The US Justice department and the Alaska Department of Law said studies showed residual oil from the 1989 spill in the inter-tidal zone of beaches, which they had not anticipated "would remain toxic and continue to impact natural resources". Exxon already paid $900m in a civil settlement, yet that settlement had a "re-opener clause'' stating Exxon could be required to pay up to an additional $100m for unforeseen natural resource damages.
The company said it would study the request before responding, but added, "Nothing we have seen so far, however, indicates that this request for further funding from Exxon is justified." Exxon argues that the request appears focused
primarily, if not exclusively, on the hypothesis that remaining oil could be
capable of causing biological harm.
"That is no more than a hypothesis," Exxon said.

Do the Editors at MSN actually lack that much lexical acumen? How does one edit a nationally distributed news service without realizing that to "refute" a claim requires more than simply denying it, or derogating it?
There is no evidence presented in the story, as far as I can tell, which supports the use of the word "refuted" in the first graf. To "refute" an allegation is to present evidence which rebuts the allegation. A claim is "refuted" when it is shown to be untrue.
When words lose their meanings, they become nothing more than empty signifiers, and understanding becomes impossible. If that happens, then cooperative action becomes impossible. When that occurs, politics become impossible. Then anything can happen.


Eli said...

"Refute" in this context appears to mean "claim that there is not ironclad proof".

muttsrus said...

Shades of Mi Lai

It was inevitable. When confronted with a fifth column
an invading army ALWAYS responds with atrocities. We did it in Vietnam, & (though not as well known) Korea, WWII ( can you guess what an invasion of Japan would have precipitated?) The Japanese did it in China, the Chinese did it to each other. The Russians did it in Afghanistan, hell, the British did it in the Revolution, the Hebrews did it to everybody, if you want to get biblical. It's what happens when professional soldiers find themselves being picked off and are unable to come to grips with another group of professional soldiers on which they may, legally, vent their rage. When the enemy is indistinguishable from the indiginous population, massacres are going to happen. It is human nature to lash when one is in pain,( and these marines are in pain, make no mistake about that) to relieve the suffering, however briefly. The satisfaction of seeing someone pay the ultimate price for the death of a comrade is two edged, leaving walking dead and the real thing. The real criminals, the ones who bear the ultimate responsibility, are the men and corporate nabobs who placed these soldiers in the killing fields
in the first place.

konopelli/WGG said...

The real criminals, the ones who bear the ultimate responsibility, are the men and corporate nabobs who placed these soldiers in the killing fields
in the first place.

well said, bro...very well said...