Volume 7, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1569-2159
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9862
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The violent acts of post-modern war are sometimes represented as long-distance communication. This paper examines the phrase send a message and others like it when used to refer to bombings, firing missiles, shooting civilians, etc. The metonymic reduction of killing and destroying to communication promotes message-sending as the single goal of a military enterprise. We provide relevant historical, cultural and political contexts that account for this increasingly prevalent framing: the imperatives of justifying aggressive war in a Post-Nuremburg international legal order; the emergence and intensification of message culture; and the increased strategic importance of perception management and information warfare. The paper includes a richly illustrated analysis of the metonymic structure of send a message and its relationship to the common, well-studied metaphor for communication, the conduit. We argue that the use of send a message to describe acts of violence does more than simply euphemize: it positions the message-senders as rational agents engaged in communicative action; and it displaces responsibility for suffering onto those who fail to get the message.


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