9-11 abbreviations disrespectful September 23, 2001 12:10 PM   Subscribe

There is something disquieting and deeply disrespectful about the way some well-intentioned but impatient members have chosen to abbreviate the September 11 massacres. After 0.81 there has just appeared a 911 designation. Is a geeky insider-code-thing acceptable in these circumstances?
Is it even understandable to non-savvy members? To non-Americans, for instance "911" is a Porsche or an emergency phone number or the 9th of November.
Also there seems to be something inconsiderate about saying "WTC" when so many others died in Washington and Pennsylvania.
I am at a loss for suggestions. It would be too jinxy to say History will probably record the attacks as the September Attacks(there already is a "Black September"...) - because September is not yet ended.
Any ideas, meanwhile?
I often need to refer to these events here at MeFi and would welcome a short, but respectul abbreviation.
Thank you.

posted by MiguelCardoso to Etiquette/Policy at 12:10 PM (10 comments total)

I think we're in danger of being so keen to respect the dead that we lose all perspective. It's not a bad position to be in, of course, but I think there are bigger issues at stake here than the disaster's proper nomenclature.

Although I'm by no means one of the biggest sufferers here, I do have connections to the tragedy, and personally am pretty sure that victims will forgive their fellow citizens for referring to the atrocity as 'WTC' or '911'. Over time, the disaster will naturally get a commonly-recognised and hopefully more sensitive name, as most major incidents do.

In the meantime, let's pay respect to the victims, both living and dead, by working together to find peace.
posted by skylar at 1:22 PM on September 23, 2001

I've seen "Red Tuesday" used at a few other places. After 9/11, it's not the color of communism anymore, but of blood and, of course, of rage. Seems apropos.

Cory Doctorow's coinage, "the Current Situation," might be useful for as long as it remains Current.
posted by kindall at 1:57 PM on September 23, 2001

I'm confused. What exactly is disrespectful about abbreviations, Miguel? Frankly, I can't come up with an examply that would be disrespectful, but it would be a bad idea to post it anyway. I find the ones is common usage to be obvious enough that anyone paying attention will know what's being talked about.

As for international confusion, the issue is context, and will be pretty obvious to anyone who bothers reading past the abbreviation. Using WTC to refer to the event is an abbreviation in itself. Everybody is focused on what happened there, and it was arguably the larger effect. Or would you rather we called it the Pentagon/WTC/PennsylvaniaField event? Massacre, to me anyway, implies murder, and I don't think the people were so much the targets as the buildings themselves, so I see that word as inappropriate. This is needless quibbling. I agree with Skylar. Eventually, a generally accepted name will eventually emerge. It's not the point right now.

And by the way, what is 0.81 supposed to mean?
posted by Su at 2:16 PM on September 23, 2001

Su: It's a "really clever" geek thing.
Blown away?
posted by Catch at 2:32 PM on September 23, 2001

MiguelCardoso, why bring up the debate over "0.81" again at MeTa after it had been hammered twice (1, 2) in MeFi? Why do you need a "short, but respectul abbreviation"?
posted by tamim at 2:55 PM on September 23, 2001

Oh, I see. I've been actively ignoring the WTC(yeah, I said it) threads for a while now, and had never come across that particular one. I wouldn't say it's disrespectful so much as just dumb and unnecessary. It's pathetic half of those threads ended up being devoted to arguing the relative worth of the number, rather than the actual link. Thanks Catch.
posted by Su at 4:02 PM on September 23, 2001

It makes perfect sense to me.. (But I am an American and a Native New Yorker). A lot of heroes have risen out of this; from Todd Beemer & Co. to Rudy Giuliani...

...But most of all, the Police, Firemen and Emergency Medical Technicians of New York City (that sentence would have been so much shorter if I had written abbreviations).

In New York, you call them by dialing "911".

Why the World Trade Center above the others? Aside from the astronomical death-toll... it was all civilians, which made it an even sadder tragedy. The Pentagon was the military branch of our Government. The White House was executive. They worked for the Government. They knew the risks.

All the people in the WTC was trying to do was make it to their next payday.

I really believe that if the terrorists had only hit Government installations, the people of the U.S. would now be protesting and saying "WHOAH... maybe we SHOULD mind our business from now on."

It's too late now. They took away a hunk of American Culture, and a lifetime of memories away from so many people. It's like looking at a different city now...

... a new world actually.

posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 4:49 PM on September 23, 2001

How about -2?

9-11 = -2. Also, we lost two big symbols of the US and NYC.
posted by daveadams at 7:39 AM on September 24, 2001

Miguel: I don't believe anyone means to be disrespectful. I think we're all struggling with events that are unspeakable that we *must* speak about. Whether we call it the Current Situation or the Big Awful or 911, each of us is trying to find some euphemism for this that we hope will spare both our feelings and those of our friends. Will it help you if I tell you I have been reading WTC to stand for the Whole Terrifying Catastrophe of that day? That's my way of dealing with it as best I can. I wish I had more to offer you. I hope that helps.
posted by realjanetkagan at 8:32 PM on September 25, 2001

It does, a lot. I now feel kind of petty and pedantic for bring it up. Thanks, realjanetkagan...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:09 PM on October 1, 2001

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