The overuse of passive voice and other strategies to avoid blame

You’ve heard it on the news…something terrible like the killing of Eric Garner, and during the interview, you hear, “Mistakes were made”. This phrase is meant to convey the notion that some unknown process or entity is responsible, but sidesteps placing blame on the person responsible.

The whole reason for this overuse of passive voice, is to allow those in power, either in police departments or in police, to deflect those who demand to know who is at fault.

“An investigation is underway…” Although I’m not sure that’s a passive voice, but it is indeed overused. It does nothing to help move the knowledge of an issue, farther along with regard to the electorate who put these people in office.

“No comment”…although at times, there may actually be “no comment” because not enough is known, or the answer involves releasing vital defense information.
More often though, “no comment” saying that if they issued a comment, the public just might get too much information. Another part of it is it is essentially saying “It’s none of your damn business. Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.”

The reason for this language, for these cliches, is to release as little information as possible, to avoid tying any single person’s identity, even if it is clear they are to blame.

“Errors which led to this explosion have been identified”
Again, it says something happened, someone had a part in it, but they aren’t telling us who is to blame.


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