I wonder if the categorization of forms of violence perpetrated by civilians as “senseless” is designed to make forms of violence perpetrated by the state as somehow “sensible” by contrast?
I think you’re right. The pairing of adjectives/images/symbols with certain kinds of violence has the effect of policing the term itself, including the absence of its use when it is in fact appropriate. I remember during the G20 in Toronto in 2010, the destruction of property by some protesters was termed “violence” by the media and was attended with adjectives like “hooligans,” “thugs” and “anarchists.” That they didn’t actually harm people (only “things”) wasn’t distinguished and the police, who did harm human bodies, were never termed violent at all, at least not in most mainstream narratives.
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