Notorious Fugitive Killed

by Translation Guy on May 13, 2011

Have you heard that they found Osama bin Laden? You know, the guy who blew up the Twin Towers back in 2001?

It used to be that people would remember what they were doing when they heard the big news about a President getting shot, or a space shuttle blowing up, or 9/11. I suppose from now on the answer will be “I was surfing the Web.”

I don’t know if the assassination of a terrorist is as epic a story as the assassination of a US president, but this is a big story. It’s everywhere on the web.  The Kaleidoscopic nature of the Web as an information source fractalizes a simple story into a zillion different stories, told by us instead of to us.

The story told to us by the guys responsible was pretty disjointed for a start. Seems as if it was designed to sow conspiracy theories rather than suppress them, as if it matters, since conspiracy theories grow on the Web like mushrooms in Pennsylvania caves full of horseshit. (Metaphor translation: Rumors spread fast on the Web.) And on this latest, we got black helicopters, Navy Seals, backstabbing spy services, and a harem for crying out loud. I guess we’ll have to wait for WikiLeaks to release the pics of Osama stroking a Persian cat.

This chart showing results of a poll taken by World Public Opinion asking who attacked the Twin Tower shows that 9/11 is alive and well. Osama’s end will no doubt fuel the fires of conspiratorial analysis.

So Obama’s end is certainly just the beginning of the conspiracy kaleidoscope just starting to pinwheel. Here are the six wackiest theories, according to Josh Dzieza.

Meanwhile, in the immediate aftermath, the media is doing what the media does, providing shot-by-shot coverage of the dramatic attack. “In the mainstream press, coverage has focused on trying to parse out the details leading up to and during the dramatic raid, and on sorting through the national and international reaction to it. Those two themes together accounted for half the bin Laden coverage” in the immediate aftermath of the killing, according to

No such breaking news on Twitter or Facebook. Netizens are mostly laughing about it and conspiring to commit conspiracy theories. “The largest share of discussion there, 19%, has involved people sharing jokes. The second largest theme involved the question of whether bin Laden was really dead, and weighing the pros and cons of the proof offered. That discussion accounted for 17% of the conversation.” Many will no doubt rank this right up there with that Apollo Moon landing hoax.

In the blogosphere, conversation was divided pretty equally among news accounts, concerns over retaliation, conspiracy or hoax theories, praise for American armed forces, and economic impact, each accounting for 10% or more of posts and comments. “Bloggers, like Twitter and Facebook users and mainstream journalists, were using the first few days after the killing of bin Laden to process the enormity of what happened, rather than seize on the event as another proxy for our ongoing arguments about politics and policy.”

So I suppose this is only tangentially related to translation, but what we choose to say to one another is actually of far more importance than how we say it, a fact that translators may not have time to consider as they steadily push their translation plow along the lines of text, patiently turning each row into a different language. The ebb and flow of information on the Web is the tide on which translation boats float, to completely mix up the metaphor.


My favorite memes? So glad you asked.

1. Dick Cheney = Osama. Here’s one from a Canadian friend of mine I saw on Facebook. “When we capture Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, that’s when I’ll be dancing in the streets.”

2. The New Drink, called the “The Bin Laden…” two shots and a splash of water.

3. Osama watching himself on TV. “INSIDE BUM LADEN’S WRECK ROOM / DEAD MAN WATCHING / Hobo of terror liked seeing self on TV,” from the headline wizards at the New York Post.

“He wasn’t hiding in a cave—he was living in a man cave. The leader of the world’s most well-funded global terror network looks more like a Bowery bum in home movies that show him huddled in his rec room admiring images of himself on a clunky TV. The pasty-faced, shaggy sheikh clutches a ratty blanket and wears a scruffy wool cap in the blooper reel of life inside the Abbottabad compound where the 9/11 mastermind’s been hiding since 2005.”

(Tip o’ the hat to Stephen J. Dubner at Freakonomics for the link and post idea).


  1. Poofu says:

    His death is fake. Buried at sea? HA HA HA HA HA

  2. Think about it.

    How did Adolf Hitler get to power finally? The Reichstag started burning and Hitler argued it was an act of terrorism but actually it was a man hired by the NSDAP (Nationalsotzialistische Deutsch Arbeiter Parte, Hitlers party).

    Now, how did the US government get a justification to attack Iraq and make laws like, the Patriot Act? It was 9/11. Do you see any similarity?

  3. Patrick says:

    I think USA are the real bad guys. Just ask yourself, why do so many nations hate america? America does whatever they want! … You are being shown a point of view that says “We are doing the right thing chasing down this mad man!”, what good reason can this mad man give us for “attacking” our towers (which is a lie as well)?

    This is all planned and blamed on Osama to make us think we are actually fighting against somebody when in fact we are fighting ourselves… wake up people!

  4. Lori Hayes says:

    LOL Dumping Osama’s body in the sea kills all chances to finding proof of his death. Obama doesn’t want to publish any media about Osama. The only known media is the fake pictures that were published in Indian and Pakistani newspapers.

    For all we know, this man could still be alive. Another Hoax if you ask me…

  5. Minnie says:

    “I can’t celebrate the death of bin Laden. Too many Americans, who were paid to protect this country but failed to, have skated free of blame. When they are called to account, and when proper measures have been taken to protect us from future attacks, then I will celebrate.” – Peter Gadiel, father of 9/11 victim, President of 9/11 Families for a Secure America

  6. dalmond says:

    Have they produced this so called “DNA test” to the public? Umm, no!

    Please don’t insult my intelligence with talk about DNA tests. A DNA test conducted by the US and verified by the US. Yeah very transparant that!

    Oh dear this just gets better and better.

    • Ken says:

      No insult intended

  7. Jackie Ellis says:

    Yeah! Thank you to the Navy Seals for getting the job done! NO thanks to the corrupt Pakistan government, who have been feeding like pigs on USD and showing nothing, but harboring our enemies. Thank you to the USA government for doing the right thing and killing our collective national nemesis. Somehow it doesn’t surprise me that the beastly Osama was into pornography. He was rotten through and through, and was not a good Muslim. What a piece of work he WAS!!!. Celebrate for the USA!!!

  8. Mudfoot says:

    i hate osama he gave moslims a bad name >:C i am a mulim and i love america and the whole world i hate these fking terrors i just want peace in the world

  9. Princess says:

    i think they did shoot somebody that was staying in that house but do you know for sure it was bin laden? maybe it was some squatter that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, i keep trying to be happy that they shot the bastard but i just cant without video and picture proof this goverment has lied to much in the past to be believed now, i still say this is a big hoax

  10. The title is misleading Mr. Clark…But what should one expect from main-stream media? After all, don’t they always TELL us what to believe and what to think?…Even when our minds actually start to think for themselves, we are reprimanded and told we must accept the supposed “facts” the the government and media gives us. Geez, their endless propaganda is getting so OLD.

  11. Ben Gay says:

    Ask also to yourself why 5.5 billion of people on earth hates 1.3 billion of muslims? Ask to those countries that had to deal with islam in a very violent way, ask in all Asia, in the west we’re not aware about what’s happening really around the world, of course I’m against about US being in those countries at war too, don’t misunderstand me. All wars are bad,could be for oil, religion, expansion, power… or whatever! Islam killed many muslims and non muslims in the name of what?

  12. Momo says:

    There is also loads of evidence he died May 1st ! The taliban , al queada itself, and the government of pakistan all believe he was wasted by the SEAL’s! Are you gonna tell me they are all in the “conspiracy” to make the US look good?

  13. Yes Bin Laden is dead, now we don’t have to keep invading nations to find him, this will stop globalization!!!

  14. Jaz says:

    There is loads of evidence to suggest he died years ago. Do your own research instead of gobbling up the corporate media bullshit.

  15. It’s true, he is STILL alive!

  16. Nguyen To says:

    This is great for Obama, he will now have an easy time winning re-election as we all believe this story and even better we believe it means something, not sure what it means but it is important you can tell by the photo op done with Obamas entire staff where they look like they are waiting to hear the news about Bin Laden, thank god for the media!

  17. Hahaha you can’t really be serious, can you? My god i thought the stereotypical image of the ‘dumb American’ was just that – a stereotype. How wrong could i be!

    If you believe this absolute crock of shit about your Navy SEALS killing Bin laden then you are more gullible than i could ever imagine. The story, and that is all it is, has changed over and over again – the Whithouse and Pentagon have had a hard job remembering the official line, no wonder – it’s changed so much!

    Wake up

    • Ken says:

      I wear my dumbness as a badge of honor, LK!

  18. Abby says:

    You have to give American government credit for one thing: propaganda. Almost as proficient as Goebbels’

    Had the US (and all other Western governments) not handed over the production and management of money to the banks and other monetary institutions, then perhaps the politicians and our so-called leaders would indeed have some power in their own office’s.

  19. Bad Mouth says:

    The truth will always come out….. regardless of all the conspiracy theories that are cooked up. I am so happy to be an American, so anything anyone else says to denigrate my identity does not matter. People in the world would love to be living where I am. I am grateful and proud to be an American!

    • Ken says:

      Just don’t spike the football, Bad Mouth! We Americans don’t do that, or so I’ve been told.

  20. Xan says:

    Ken, dont you think its just a little odd that the president refuses to release any pictures or vids of the bin laden killing? a man that helped plan the deaths of 3000 people and he wont release a pic or vid because he says it a matter of national security? so the official story of the raid has changed 8 or 9 times, and there is no picture proof or video proof? call me a conspiracy theorist or deather all you want but with this goverment we have to demand proof that it was osama they shot

    • Ken says:

      Deather. That’s great, Zan. You want photo proof. What about that pic of Hilary Clinton with her hand over her mouth (not counting the versions where she’s been photoshopped out of the pic.

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