Understanding Evil: Lessons from Bosnia

By Keith Doubt | Go to book overview

7. EVIL’S DISFIGUREMENT OF LANGUAGE

It is held that man, in distinction from plant and animal, is the
living being capable of speech. This statement does not mean
only that, along with other faculties, man also possesses the fac-
ulty of speech. It means to say that only speech enables man to
be the living being he is as man.

—Martin Heidegger

One instrument that promoted evil in Bosnia was the war criminals’ mendacious use of language in the media. Documentaries, news reports, and world newspapers featured the verbal utterances of Slobodan Milošević, Ratko Mladić, Željko Ražnjatović (Arkan), and Radovan Karadžić. When speaking with a reporter, Milošević, Mladić, Arkan, and Karadžić were aware of their audience; they anticipated how their audience would perceive them. This awareness influenced what those engaged in evil said and how they said it. The world would think that through these utterances it understood the ineffable events in Bosnia.

Every person engaged in action speaks, and this speaking signifies social membership. Through the mere fact that Milošević, Mladić, Arkan, and Karadžić could be gregarious in the global media, they promoted an image of themselves as members of human society. Despite their crimes against humanity and transgressions against so many communities, they normalized their conduct to themselves and to the world.

An earlier version of this chapter appeared as “O upotrebi dvoličnog diskursa u globalnim medijima od strane počinitelja rathih zločina u Bosni” in Odjek.

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Understanding Evil: Lessons from Bosnia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Part 1- Witnessing Evil 1
  • 1- Evil as Action 3
  • 2- Evil’s Direction 8
  • 3- Evil’s Reason 16
  • 4- Evil’s Vanity 25
  • 5- Rape as Evil 35
  • 6- Evil’s Agency 39
  • 7- Evil’s Disfigurement of Language 52
  • Part 2- Understanding Evil 63
  • 8- Postmodernism’s Relation to Evil 65
  • 9- Psychologizing Evil 80
  • 10- Ritualizing Evil 91
  • 11- Theorizing Evil with Socratic NativetÉ 107
  • 12- Sociocide: a New Paradigm for Evil 119
  • References 139
  • Index 147
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