USA Today's First Headline Said Pakistan Honor Killing Was Due to 'Offending Conservatives'

Secular liberal journalists with a sensitivity toward Islam get very reluctant to cover "honor killings," when Muslim men kill the women in their families for bringing "dishonor" on their name. On Saturday, USA Today reporter Nick Penzenstadler penned an article on a Pakistani social-media celebrity being strangled by her own brother. The first headline caused Twitter outrage. It was "Pakistani model killed after offending conservatives."

My friend Cameron Gray over at quickly tweeted at USA Today, and received a lame reply from the reporter:

Reporters like Penzenstadler find no problem in defining evil people as "conservatives." In this case, the brother had more conservative morals, so why not? Liberal reporters have also used "conservative" to describe the hard-core communists in Russia or China, since they wanted to "conserve" communism. The same applied to racists trying to preserve apartheid in South Africa.

Penzenstadler couldn't understand why using "conservatives" was insulting, which illustrated he and his employer are far more sensitive to offending Muslims: 

USA Today's website editors changed the headline to "Brother confesses to killing Pakistani model over racy photos," which is more accurate, but still elides around using "honor killing" in the headline. The story was changed to reflect it was an honor killing, and explained the "conservative" killer's rationale:

Baloch, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, shot to fame and notoriety with a series of social media postings that would be tame by Western standards but were deeply scandalous by conservative Pakistani societal norms. She cultivated an outrageous public persona, recently promising to perform a public striptease if the Pakistani cricket team won a major tournament.

Baloch had a large following of more than 700,000 people on her official Facebook page. She posted recently she was “trying to change the typical orthodox mindset of people who don’t wanna come out of their shells of false beliefs and old practices.”

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Tim Graham's picture