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Quips, queries, and querulous quibbles from the quirky mind of Don Kahle

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“eligible for execution”

April 4th, 2006 by dk

Does this strike anyone else as an odd phrase? I’m an alliteration aficionado as much as anyone, but “eligible” seems fixed in my mind to things that are good, things that I want. Execution hasn’t made it onto my Christmas wish list lately. Granted, this IS what Zacarias Moussaoui wants, but I don’t figure the news media to be so sympathetic to his cause as to frame it for his liking.

When a phrase sounds strange to the ear, yet you hear it over and over, one of two things is happening. Either PR people are getting us ready to feel better about something that we don’t already like, or news people are simply repeating what other news people have already said. No need to reinvent the wheel, even if it is still strangely squarish!

More likely, it’s a technical term that makes sense to legal professionals, but hasn’t been translated into person-speak yet. (I have always had similar complaints when doctors test for a tumor and inform the patient that the results were negative. “Negative” for the tumor maybe, but “positive” for the patient! Who are doctors to be taking the side of the tumor?!) Technically, I suppose it could be claimed that every living being is “eligible” for “execution.” Once you are dead, you cannot be made more dead, therefore you are no longer executable.

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