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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

"Sir, you need to get back".

There is an item on the New York Times about a demonstration taking place at the University of Missouri. In the clip a student journalist is surrounded and jostled by members of the crowd who try to stop him taking pictures.

What interests me is the form of words that they used to do this. They don't say "get back". They say,  "you need to get back". They say it repeatedly. They seem to like the "you need to" formulation. It seems to suggest that this is somehow a universal imperative the man should obey rather than the instructions of a gang with their particular agenda. I find it pretty ugly. The weasel pretence at politeness makes it more so.

Even uglier at the end of the clip is an assistant professor of mass media, no less, calling for "some muscle" to help remove a troublesome journalist. I sincerely hope she's embarrassed.