30 November 2010

More improper thoughts about T and I

Ami Isseroff is unhappy with the twists and turns in use of English language that political expediency dictates to NYT journalists:

Consider this headline and lede story from the New York Times:

Oregon Teen Arrested in Plot to Bomb Holiday Event

A Somali-born teenager attempting to detonate what he believed was a car bomb at a packed Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Portland, Ore., was arrested by the authorities on Friday night. They had spent nearly six months tracking him and setting up a sting operation, officials in Oregon said.
How very strange! Why would anyone want to do something like that? In fact, you could read through most of this article and probably not have any idea why this teenager wanted to bomb all those people.
Ami rounds up the story in this way:
Americans have no chance at all of understanding their problem and of formulating a policy to combat “I” “T.” They cannot even talk about it. They think that if they do not talk it, it does not exist. Why couldn’t the Times write the simple truth in their headline, “Islamist Terrorist Arrested in Plot to Bomb Holiday Event??“ If the perpetrator had been a Communist, or a Christian or Jewish extremist, would the Times have been as reticent in describing his religion and motives?
While agreeing with Ami wholeheartedly on the damage caused to the language by various political commissars of various persuasions, I would suggest that the NYT article is not yet a perfectly polished expression of political will. So I would offer an improved version of the same text:
Oregon Teen Talked to After Attempting to Spoil a Holiday Event

A cute but unruly teenager attempting to light what he believed was an oversized firecracker at a packed Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Portland, Ore., was given a stern talk to by the authorities on Friday night. They had spent a considerable effort doing their best to prevent the naughty boy from fouling up the festivities, officials in Oregon said.
Now, isn't it better now? Thought so...


Dick Stanley said...

Americans talk about I, T, or T, I all the time. It's the legacy media that won't. And that is one of many reasons why LM has lost so much respect. You shouldn't confuse the two: people vs media. They aren't even close to being the same.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Well, Ami means the media, of course. But I shall pass your correction to him.

Dick Stanley said...

Polls have consistently shown that Americans trust lawyers and politicians more than they do the news media, and they trust lawyers and politicians hardly at all. The NM likes to pretend it is a mirror of the society, but the society knows better.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

This, I always thought, is a recipe for a healthy society. Keep the lawyers, politicos and media on a short leash and all will be fine.