Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Beacon Hill Groper"?

In a comment on a recent post about the Beacon Hill Groper, Kim said she was tired of hearing the media call him by that name because it downplays the severity of his crimes.

I've been calling him a "groper" because it's a specifically sexual reference; he's not randomly attacking people for no clear reason. No, the sick asshole is targeting only women, specifically Asian women. The term "South Seattle assailant" isn't meaningful. South Seattle is full of assailants.

Another commenter, apparently a Seattle Times employee, pointed out that his/her paper has not called him a "groper."

Out of curiosity, I looked up the term "Beacon Hill Groper" to see who all has been using it.

KOMO has. (That link goes to a story that recaps last night's Beacon Hill Elementary PTSA meeting, where police spoke about the incident. As I figured, they didn't say anything noteworthy. Just "walk in pairs," "scream," "call 911," "maintain extra vigilance," etc.)

King 5 has, but they feel guilty enough about it to put it in quotes. They've also called him the "bus stop groper."

And someone on MySpace is calling himself the Beacon Hill Groper.

Anyway. I'm happy to call him something else if there's a more accurate term -- I just hope that doesn't end up being the "Beacon Hill Rapist."


Kim said...

Oh, I accept "groper" as the best of a bad lot of available terms. I just get kind of hung up on language sometimes.

I looked up "to grope" out of curiosity. Used in the intransitive, it means "feel about or search blindly or uncertainly with the hands." Ain't nothing uncertain about what this guy is doing. Transitively, it means "feel or fondle (someone) for sexual pleasure, esp. against their will." But not always against their will. Tellingly, this is the example sentence that my dictionary gives for the use of "grope" as a noun: "She and Steve sneaked off for a quick grope."

Since "grope" is so often used to describe consensual activities, I just wish we had a better word to describe a criminal whose assaults take the form of groping. That's all I was trying to say!

JvA said...

Yes. I wouldn't have mentioned it if I didn't also agree with you. I was hoping there was a better term, but there probably isn't.