I’ve been seeing an awful lot of stupid going around, and it is annoying me. So here are some definitions of specific descriptive terms whose use/misuse has been causing stupid arguments to become even stupider. (footnotes are clickable, btw)
If a CIVILIAN1 someone who is not a member of the MILITARY kills someone, that person has either committed HOMICIDE (it wasn’t done with intent) or MURDER (it was done with intent). In the case of self-defense or defense of another, homicide can be considered NON-CRIMINAL. These terms also apply to LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS,2 because LEOs are still considered civilians, because they are not members of the military but due to the nature of their job and training3 there is not room for a rant about the gross shortcomings of U.S. police training here it can be very difficult for a court to determine actual intent.
If a person commits more than three individual murders over a drawn-out period of time, especially if they are using a specific pattern of appearance or behavior for choosing the victims and/or committing the murders, that person is called a SERIAL KILLER.
If a person kills multiple people at once or in direct sequence, that person is called a MASS MURDERER.
If a person kills individual people or multiple people at once in support of their preferred ideology and/or specifically to spread fear throughout the general population, that person is called a TERRORIST. If they do it in their own country, they may also be referred to as a DOMESTIC TERRORIST.
Any of the above people may also be called a LONE WOLF, which is not meant to negate other descriptions of the crime or diminish the severity of act(s) committed, but merely indicates that the person was believed to be acting alone, without direct support from accomplices and/or an organization. This is an important distinction, because once a lone wolf is captured or killed then the threat they posed to the general public is over,4unless their crime spawns COPYCATS, which is what happens when a severely unbalanced person hears about a crime and decides they can do it better and possibly get some of that sweet, sweet media attention for themselves but if the incident was the act of a group then the threat will be ongoing so long as any group members are still at large.5members of law enforcement, for obvious reasons, sincerely hope that any murdery type of person they run across will turn out to be a lone wolf and will not spawn any copycats. Media-type people just love the term ‘lone wolf’ because it sounds cool.
If a mass murderer or terrorist, whether they are a lone wolf or not, plants, detonates or throws explosives in a public place, they may also be called a BOMBER.6do keep in mind that the word ‘bomber’ may also refer to an airplane, a jacket, or a very large bottle of beer The term MAD BOMBER may also be seen, but “The Mad Bomber” was actually a nickname given to one particular lone-wolf bomber who terrorized New York City for 16 years.7this was in the 1940s-1950s, and he did it because <a href=”https://www.britannica.com/biography/George-Metesky”>he had a personal beef with Con-Ed</a>
And finally, if a person is thought to be any of these terrible things but has not been convicted of them by a court of law, they will be called ALLEGED or SUSPECTED, because to just call them the thing if they have not been convicted of it is DEFAMATION. Defamatory statements are either SLANDER (spoken) or LIBEL (written), and people/organizations can be sued for making them if they cause real-life damage to someone’s reputation. The absolute defense to defamatory statements is the TRUTH,8unless the entity defaming you is a tabloid and you are a celebrity, in which case you are probably shit out of luck so if a person who has been defamed can prove the libel/slander false then they have LEGAL RECOURSE through the courts.
This has been a very brief rundown of some words you see in the news, general definitions which have been compiled from multiple sources.