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Fired for saying the word "Genocide"

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John Marshall Evans became the US ambassador to Armenia in August 2004. Six months later he visited California and was convinced by Armenian-Americans here to cut the political B.S. and simply say that the 1.5 million Armenians who were the victims of genocide at the hands of the Turks from 1915 and 1923... were indeed victims of genocide.

Today President Bush will tapdance around the word in fear of insulting our ally Turkey, a country that is critical in our actions in the Middle East. Infact over the last 13 years on April 24, ridiculously but officially dubbed "National Day of Remembrance of Man's Inhumanity to Man", US Presidents acknowledge the Armenian tragedy without ever saying the G-word. Whereas most of the EU recognizes the genocide, Switzerland and France have taken it to the next level making it a crime to deny the genocide.

Ambassador Evans' crime was saying the word. In a interview with the LA Times today, he explains that because no one ever really said the word he didn't really know what the punishment would be.

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Clearly when I was here in February 2005, I knew that by mentioning this word, I could get myself in trouble. I didn't know precisely what the degree of that trouble would be, but I knew that it could range from a slap on the wrist to being immediately canned. And as it turned out it was something between those extremes: I got more than a mere slap on the wrist, I wasn't immediately canned. I basically was eased out after about 18 months, although I had more time on my clock. [...] I was basically asked to go ahead and retire.

The entire interview with the Times' Matt Welch is fascinating, as is Welch's piece on Sunday explaining the dilemma President Bush faces today as to how he will approach the G-word.We're sure the president will handle it as gracefully as he normally does when slamdancing with the English language.

photo by Clinton Steeds