When is a 19-year-old not an adult? When it serves someone else’s purpose to label him a “teenager.”
Before authorities arrested him at O’Hare International Airport and accused him of attempting to provide aid to ISIS, a teen from the Chicago suburbs left behind a letter for his parents.
Mohammed Hamzah Khan, 19, wrote that he was leaving the United States and on the way to join ISIS, according to a criminal complaint. He invited his family to join him in the three-page letter, which authorities found in the bedroom he shared with a sibling in Bolingbrook, Illinois. But he warned them not to tell anyone about his travel plans, the complaint said.
The headline — which seems disingenuous in the extreme, given the opening paragraphs — is, “Was arrested teen on his way to join ISIS?”
Throughout the CNN article, as well as on NBC and ABC and other outlets, the young man is referred to as a “teen.” Correct in the strict sense of the word, perhaps, but misleading: this was an adult, of legal age, despite being technically a teenager.
Someone casually reading the headline could make the honest mistake that this was a minor, rather than an adult responsible for his actions. To persist in calling him a “teen” is to imply that his choice to pursue affiliation with ISIS was some youthful folly, rather than a deliberate decision.
The correct news headline — the accurate news headline — would have been “Chicago Man Arrested on His Way to Join ISIS.”
I leave it to the reader to consider why journalists and editors might have made this choice.by