In the UK, the old offence of incitement has been replaced with the much weaker offence of ‘assisting and encouraging’, which includes such defuse crimes as ‘encouraging’ the accessory to a crime (rather than the principal offender), encouraging a preparatory offence (rather than a criminal act), and encouraging an offence which is at the time impossible to commit (therefore a crime that could never have happened, with all the encouragement in the world).Well, lots of things, although the title of this post gives a tiny clue as to where I'm going with this. You can choose from the following:
Spiked Online, 11 March 2013
- It's too long, at 72 words
- The phrase "In the UK" implies that there is such a thing as UK law, which there isn't (Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own legal systems)
- It uses a serial (Oxford or Harvard) comma: "a preparatory offence (rather than a criminal act), and…"
- It says "an offence which…" instead of "an offence that…"
- It talks about "defuse crimes"
In Point 4, "impossible to commit" clearly distinguishes such an offence from all other offences, so the writer should have used 'that' instead of 'which' (see my earlier post here) 'Which' probably seemed preferable because of the awkward order of words.
But Point 5 is the real howler. The writer should have written 'diffuse'. She has used completely the wrong word, which in a piece about legal precision is a bad mistake.
Defuse (verb): to remove a fuse, or, when used figuratively, to make something safe'Defuse crimes' would be the illegal disarming of bombs, which I think neatly comes under Point 4: "an offence … impossible to commit".
Diffuse (verb or adjective): widely scatter(ed)
Moral: Similar-sounding words can have diffuse meanings. When an editor spots such an obvious mistake, he'll suddenly find lots of other things wrong with your writing.