February 08, 2010
Selling Fear and Politics
Because she could not recite the alphabet, Joshua Tabor shoved his daughter face-down into a bowl of water. When authorities came for her, she was found cowering in a closet, covered in scratches and bruises.
Joshua Tabor is mentally ill and an unfit father. No sane person disputes that.
The UK Daily Mail, however, sensationalizes the brutality with the headline "U.S. soldier 'waterboarded his own daughter, 4, because she couldn't recite alphabet.'"
Tabor's sadistic act—as described by the Daily Mail itself—isn't waterboarding or remotely similar to it. Tabor's act of brutality was drowning. Waterboarding, as brutal as it is, only simulates drowning, and is done by professionals in controlled conditions. Tabor could have very easily killed his daughter.
By purposefully mis-characterizing Tabor's brutal act, the Daily Mail both minimized the life-threatening abuse of his daughter and simultaneously made an (as yet) unfounded correlation between his being a soldier and his suffering some sort of post-combat mental condition, when they did not know at press time if he was ever deployed.
It is cheap political grandstanding from a newspaper that has the obvious goal of warning UK readers that if their soldiers continue to fight in Afghanistan, their children could be next.
The Daily Mail should be ashamed of themselves, but they would have to be capable of feeling shame first.
A U.S.-based version of the story provides both more facts, and less editorializing.