Abdelhamid Abaaoud, reportedly killed today, has frequently been referred to as the ‘mastermind’ behind the massacre in Paris. Am I alone in thinking this choice of word both tasteless and inaccurate? Tasteless because it seems to credit Abaaoud with pulling off some spectacular achievement, and I really don’t think mass murder should be spoken of in that way. And inaccurate because I don’t think it takes much of a genius at planning to tell a bunch of psychos “Go out there and blast away indiscriminately with your guns, it doesn’t matter if you don’t come out of it alive.”
There was a Beyond the Fringe sketch featuring Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and Alan Bennet, I think, in which a criminal was referred to as a “mindermast”. I think this term should perhaps be applied to Abaaoud, to avoid the risk of glorifying him.