I am a headline reader. All the science and study of writing a headline is aimed at me.
I am now at the stage of my life where the headline can inspire quite a reaction.
Such as earlier this week when in juxtaposition I thought two headlines that I came across on huffingtonpost.com said quite a lot (and not necessarily related to the content of the articles in question). The one referred to the difficulties the US senate is having to agree on the financing necessary to keep government running. The other referred to the space station programme which China has launched. Kind of ironic, isn't it? If it doesn't challenge the most simplistic notions of what is meant by a "developed"/"developing" country? (disclaimer - I am in no way implying that the so-called "developed" countries are thereby exempt from the responsibility of that label - far from it!)
However, this is not the headline I want to comment on here. It is one currently on CNN.com: "Was it legal to kill al-Awlaki?"
I will not read the article, but since they posed a question I find myself formulating an answer anyway:
Probably not. Since when has that stopped you? Just talking about a legal killing seems quite bizarre to me. However I am willing to accept in this morally complex world we live in that we do need to define in legal terms when it is permissible to kill someone. Nevertheless I prefer that there is a process which monitors this ex post to ensure that this legal power is never abused. Then again I am talking to a so-called developed country which still practices the death penalty. Which leads me to believe that there is a link between the need to assert one's power rather than taking into any account any sense of legitimacy of that power. Which may be why such killings will continue, as will the debate.