I’ve a great respect for the word ‘alleged’. No, I amend that statement – it’s God-like status actually terrifies me. God-like? Oh, yes! The word is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient – like the Almighty himself.
Open any newspaper, and the word stares at you – as a verb, as a noun, as an advective or adverb… There’s no escaping it. And it doesn’t passively lie there as the printed word, it leaps at you from all corners – whether it’s the internet, the radio or the TV – uttered with varying degrees of stress and irony. It’s the media man’s anticipatory bail cum insurance, his suit of armour against libel charges.
“The alleged incident is said to have taken place in …” Right away, a suspicion is cast in the collective minds of a million people – did it really happen? It’s incredible how this disyllabic word has the power to reduce the most brutal crime to something that just might be a fabrication of an overactive imagination – and very likely, that of the ‘alleged’ victim. You automatically begin to wonder if there’s just a shadow of ulterior motive there somewhere…
In the meantime, there may – or may not – be a confused, pertrified victim – alleged victim – slowly stragulating under all those layers of allegations and counter-allegations, the controversies and the media circus that stemmed from the alleged crime that allegedly took place… She may be (or maybe not?) exhibiting signs of intense stress and trauma that were the result of the alleged act of violence – that is, if she lucky to be still alive. But then these are just allegations. Who knows what the truth is, right?
Talk about wordpower.