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Are We Correct To Use The Word Suspect?

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  • Are We Correct To Use The Word Suspect?

    I donít really expect this to be a long thread but I just wanted to hear opinions. This point has been debated on the Druitt thread but Iím writing in general terms so Iím hoping that we donít get side tracked by the merits or non-merits of Druitt. This is about all potential candidates for Jack the Ripper. Itís a general point.

    The debate has taken two sides and those involved can of course chip in and flesh out their own viewpoints.

    On one side Trevor Marriott And Harry believe that we should only use the word suspect in its modern day, Police jargon, definition.

    On the the other side Paul Begg, myself, Wickerman, Sam Flynn, RJ Palmer who all believe that this is a historical investigation by ripperologists and researchers and so the dictionary definition should be applied ie that a suspect is simply someone who is suspected (by whoever)

    The alternative to the (lets call it the DD version - Dictionary Definition version) would appear to involve us in emptying the suspect sections of both Forums as none would fit the MPJ version (Modern Police Jargon version) criteria and replacing it with something akin to a Persons Of Interest section. The questions raised are many. For example, Trevor has called his suspect Carl Feigenbaum a Ďvery likely suspect.í Of course Trevor is perfectly entitled to nominate a suspect but not all would agree with him on his choice so how do we decide? Do we compile lists of complicated criteria to be endlessly argued over? Do we have categories like - Person of interest - Unlikely Suspect - Suspect - Likely Suspect - Very Likely Suspect - Police Suspect? Who has the casting vote when we cannot agree? What benefit can be gained from this? Who is served by this over complication? Would it change the way that we discuss and debate candidates? Couldnít a suspect be innocent and yet a person of interest be guilty? Yes we are going to get some ludicrous suspects but we will in no way be forced to waste our own time discussing them if we donít wish to. And as Paul has pointed out several times - this is not an ongoing police investigation. Of course the police benefit from a tighter definition so that they donít waste valuable resources on unlikely candidates but that doesnít apply to us. No lives are at risk if we discuss someone who wasnít actually the ripper.

    Surely itís simpler to do as we have always done and use the DD version? A suspect is someone that has been suspected (by whoever) Unless weíve got some kind of league table of suspects/persons of interest I really see no point unless posters simply want to get suspects that they donít favour relegated to a lower ranking? Do we want to be reduced to that?

    Any thoughts?
    Last edited by Herlock Sholmes; 05-30-2019, 07:44 PM.
    Regards

    Herlock






    "Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.”

  • #2
    If someone is suspected of committing a crime they are a suspect. Not many people use MPJ today and I for one find its application quite irritating in some situations. The public today still throw around the word 'suspect' so it shouldn't necessarily change when looking into the past to arrive at conclusions of historical events.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks Sleuth,

      The case is complicated enough as it is. Itís seems quite pointless to add another layer when it serves no benefit. The MPJ version helps the police in a current investigation but not us in a historical one.
      Regards

      Herlock






      "Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.”

      Comment


      • #4
        Seems to me a pointless exercise, and if they really think

        a. That even today the general population and/or press, adopt or appreciate the difference.

        b. That this is a criminal v historical investigation.

        they need to explain how and why they reach that conclusion.

        in my opinion it was merely an attempt to divert the question.

        maybe someone should start a thread asking if Montie is a P.o.I.
        G U T

        There are two ways to be fooled, one is to believe what isn't true, the other is to refuse to believe that which is true.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by GUT View Post
          Seems to me a pointless exercise, and if they really think

          a. That even today the general population and/or press, adopt or appreciate the difference.

          b. That this is a criminal v historical investigation.

          they need to explain how and why they reach that conclusion.

          in my opinion it was merely an attempt to divert the question.

          maybe someone should start a thread asking if Montie is a P.o.I.
          Cheers GUT,

          A pointless exercise sums it up for me. Nothing beneficial can be gained from adding needless gradations. If we donít think that someone is a worthwhile suspect we can either a) debate those that do, or b) simply donít take part. We canít relegate a candidate by simply changing how we title them.
          Regards

          Herlock






          "Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.”

          Comment


          • #6
            Hi all,

            I see this in terms of how language is used to convey information to facilitate discussion. Words are not like puzzle pieces. Remove a puzzle piece from the overall picture and the puzzle piece remains exactly the same. Words, and language, are more malleable, and often change their shape, if you will, to fit the scene into which they are being placed. In other words, words convey a blurry range of concepts and are sharpened by the context in which the word is used. Change the context, and the word is sharpened and shaped differently.

            In discussions about JtR, that's the context. We're not police, we're a collection of people from all sorts of backgrounds. In these discussions, suspect as a word has always been used primarily to signal "I'm going to talk about person X and see what sort of case I can build with regards to them being JtR". Suspect, therefore, tends to be used in "solution based" discussions, and it just signals who is the focus of the proposed solution. Debates then focus on the case that is presented for that suspect and those debates might focus anywhere from "why person X is even worth considering in the first place" (i.e. Lewis Carrol) to "how convincing is the case against X" (so people like Hutchinson, Barnett, Cross/Lechmere and so forth, are all certainly individuals that do not appear randomly chosen by us, so debates focus on different aspects.

            In other words, in the context of JtR discussions, suspect is not used to flag anything related to the quality of the evidence that led to focusing upon them nor on the strength of the case against them, or anything else connecting to the concept of "how strong is the evidence of their guilt". It's used only to flag "who we're talking about in a solution based focused discussion".

            That's how the word has been used in the context of JtR discussion.

            In other contexts, such as police investigating a case, the word is used with more of a connection to the concepts of "quality of evidence suggesting some increased probability of guilt" and so forth. And for those who see the word suspect as conveying those aspects as well, it would seem very much to be the wrong word. But in the end, we all know none of the "suspects" have any solid and/or compelling objective evidence against them. We have peripheral evidence, circumstances that are open to multiple interpretations, and so forth, and if we applied this definition as Herlock says, the "suspects" boards all get deleted (well, renamed, I guess).

            So if all we could do is rename our "suspect boards" to some other word (the "proposed" as in "I propose this is JtR") then it's just a case of a rose by any other name. It would also interfere with the understanding of previous discussions (why was X a suspect in 2015 but now they are only "proposed", has something weakened the case against them since then? etc.)

            I see no benefit to changing how the word suspect is used here as it always has been. Changing it along the lines of how it is used in other contexts would just eliminate it from use, confuse the vast majority of people who use it in the more relaxed "proposed topic" definition, and simply result in having to come up with a different word (i.e. the proposed), which indicates the entire argument is a rhetorical one.

            - Jeff

            Comment


            • #7
              Hello Jeff,

              I dont think that it could have been put any better than that .
              Regards

              Herlock






              "Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.”

              Comment


              • #8
                Given that we are dealing with real people whose reputations are perhaps needlessly being sullied, for the sake of what is essentially for most a hobby, I'm a strong believer in using the word "suspect" with great caution.
                dustymiller
                aka drstrange

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by drstrange169 View Post
                  Given that we are dealing with real people whose reputations are perhaps needlessly being sullied, for the sake of what is essentially for most a hobby, I'm a strong believer in using the word "suspect" with great caution.
                  Hi drstrange,

                  The "sullying of reputation", however, results from presenting the "case" against them not by the use of the word suspect per se. If we used "proposed" instead (for example), to "propose that Lewis Carroll was JtR" and then argue based upon anagrams and so forth, it does no less to "sully his reputation" than to say he is the suspect in that same presentation.

                  What people discuss, in the end, are really aspects of the "case" put forth, and those discussions can focus on different aspects, such as "why choose that particular person?", and with those like Lewis Carroll, there's little need to proceed beyond that point. For others, say Hutchinson or Lechmere/Cross, it's because they are known to be near the scene of the crime at times that could provide them the opportunity, so the discussions move to focusing on evaluating the credibility of asserting they actually had the opportunity, and so forth. Druitt's case for looking at him is based upon his name coming up in the MM, so again, not a random pick based upon anagrams, and debate there often focuses on what information was it that put his name on the MM in the first place.

                  I don't think the word suspect being changed to something else would change any of the concerns, but I agree, that it is irresponsible for proposing anybody's name as a suspect (see what I did there? ha ha) if that choice is one that can be shot down at the "why I selected person X stage", and things like "because of this anagram" or tea leaves of any other sort, should be frowned upon.

                  - Jeff

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post
                    Hello Jeff,

                    I dont think that it could have been put any better than that .
                    Exactly.
                    - Ginger

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The one big lie,of course,is that police officers of 1888,did not know and use the terminology of today.They did use and know what the term 'Suspect' meant,and that is the only term that is being contested.They also knew what the term 'Proof' meant. Collectively police are known to have stated neither could be used against anyone in respect of the Whitechapel murders.
                      So Trevor and I are sticking to facts,not resorting to lies.
                      In between 1888 and now,the term 'Person of interest' came into use.It is a description that is used extensively today by police forces.Generally it is used in situations where evidence may point in a certain direction,but is insufficient or of such low quality,that that the term 'Suspect' cannot/should not be applied.
                      Retaining something because it was once the norm,is a weak arguement.Even the way historical investigation is used changes,as more and better methods become apparent.
                      So a change to,'Person of interest',is,i believe,a good way to go.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by harry View Post
                        The one big lie,of course,is that police officers of 1888,did not know and use the terminology of today.They did use and know what the term 'Suspect' meant,and that is the only term that is being contested.They also knew what the term 'Proof' meant. Collectively police are known to have stated neither could be used against anyone in respect of the Whitechapel murders.
                        So Trevor and I are sticking to facts,not resorting to lies.
                        In between 1888 and now,the term 'Person of interest' came into use.It is a description that is used extensively today by police forces.Generally it is used in situations where evidence may point in a certain direction,but is insufficient or of such low quality,that that the term 'Suspect' cannot/should not be applied.
                        Retaining something because it was once the norm,is a weak arguement.Even the way historical investigation is used changes,as more and better methods become apparent.
                        So a change to,'Person of interest',is,i believe,a good way to go.
                        I ask again, how does it improve anything.
                        G U T

                        There are two ways to be fooled, one is to believe what isn't true, the other is to refuse to believe that which is true.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The U.S. department of justice doesnít even have a definition for POI
                          G U T

                          There are two ways to be fooled, one is to believe what isn't true, the other is to refuse to believe that which is true.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            >>The "sullying of reputation", however, results from presenting the "case" against them not by the use of the word suspect per se. If we used "proposed" instead (for example), to "propose that Lewis Carroll was JtR" and then argue based upon anagrams and so forth, it does no less to "sully his reputation" than to say he is the suspect in that same presentation.<<


                            Hello Jeff,

                            I'd have to disagree with that assessment. "Suspect" carries connotations far and above "proposed".

                            When people read the word "suspect" in, say, a newspaper in relation to a crime, the notion of innocent until proved guilty is often abandoned in their minds. In extreme cases, leading to lynch mob mentality.

                            However, an unusual phrasing like your "proposed" immediately instills the possibility of doubt. An hypothesis that needs to be read to judged.

                            A headline claiming, "Dusty Miller has been named the suspect in crime" is very different from, "I have a proposal that Dusty Miller might have done it". The first implies, rightly or wrongly, guilt, the other engenders curiosity.

                            Social media suicides have given lie to the old proverb, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."


                            dustymiller
                            aka drstrange

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by harry View Post
                              The one big lie,of course,is that police officers of 1888,did not know and use the terminology of today.They did use and know what the term 'Suspect' meant,and that is the only term that is being contested.They also knew what the term 'Proof' meant. Collectively police are known to have stated neither could be used against anyone in respect of the Whitechapel murders.
                              So Trevor and I are sticking to facts,not resorting to lies.
                              In between 1888 and now,the term 'Person of interest' came into use.It is a description that is used extensively today by police forces.Generally it is used in situations where evidence may point in a certain direction,but is insufficient or of such low quality,that that the term 'Suspect' cannot/should not be applied.
                              Retaining something because it was once the norm,is a weak arguement.Even the way historical investigation is used changes,as more and better methods become apparent.
                              So a change to,'Person of interest',is,i believe,a good way to go.
                              Hi Harry,

                              I don't think anyone is debating how modern police use the term suspect, what's being discussed here is how that word is used here, in this context. Nobody will misunderstand you if you use "person of interests" in your posts if you're more comfortable in expressing yourself that way. In the same vein though, when you read posts here you can't assume that a poster is using the word suspect the way you do because it is not used that way on these boards. Also, the official police "suspect file", so called by the police of 1888, contained names of people they wanted to check out, or so I believe from what I've read. I'm assuming they listed people like "insane medical students", and other "persons of interest" as you would call them. So while the police in the 1880s might consider some suspects as more or less evidenced, they do appear to have used the word suspect to refer to a much broader range than modern police. But that's an entirely different issue to what we're talking about here. I would suggest what you might find helpful if you are unsure what a poster means when they say "suspect" is you could ask for clarification, maybe something like "do you just mean the person whom you're proposing to be JtR or do you mean you think there is concrete evidence sufficient to make them an official suspect in the modern police usage of the term? You might find, however, that posters may not know what that latter specification means as most are not affiliated with the police so you may want to have a very specific, clear, and concise way of communicating your specific definition. At which point you'll probably find that the evidence that remains available to us can never satisfy that definition, so you could save yourself the trouble and just go with the realization that all "suspects" here are, at best, what you mean by "person of interest". The interesting issues lie in the discussion of the evidence we do have available and no so much in the subtleties of semantics and how they change from one context to another.

                              - Jeff

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