Saturday, June 15, 2013

Is Inadmissible Unacceptable?

Sometimes a word strikes us as slightly out of focus, a bit fuzzy and inappropriate. I encountered such a word yesterday while watching CNN. Wesley Clark was being interviewed, and the topic was Syria crossing President Obama’s red line, thus finally triggering direct aid to the rebels. The General said, “Using chemical weapons is totally inadmissible.”

Perhaps it’s just my dialect, but I found his use of “inadmissible” mildly jarring. I associate inadmissible with trials and courts of law. Evidence may be inadmissible because it was obtained without a warrant, and testimony may be inadmissible because it is based on hearsay. But in my neighborhood, using WMD’s is unacceptable, not inadmissible.

When defining inadmissible, most online dictionaries make a reference to court, evidence, or testimony, thereby confirming my assessment. I found only one that gave a secondary definition: “not to be allowed or tolerated.” I found it on the Oxford Dictionaries site.

Our brethren to the north have their own take on the word inadmissible. Some people are not allowed to enter Canada. They are known as “inadmissible” under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). You might not be admitted for any of the following reasons: security considerations, human or international rights violations, criminality, contagious diseases, financial reasons, misrepresentation, or having an inadmissible family member.

I did find one other site that used inadmissible as a synonym for unacceptable—The Voice of Russia site. It contained this quote: "We are extremely concerned with media reports [about the capture of sarin gas by Turkish forces]. Russia believes that the use of any chemical weapons is absolutely inadmissible,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich is quoted by a Russian TV channel as saying on Thursday.

So, whether it’s actually off base or just foreign to my ear, the word inadmissible is out there at least occasionally as a synonym for unacceptable.

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