Monday, June 04, 2007

It's already overcrowded ...

Here's an early front-runner for Annoying, Stupid Hed of the (still-young) Month:

Two offenses here. First, question heds are never to be used to soften or attribute assertions. Under rare circumstances, they can be considered for actual questions. Here's how you can tell the difference: "Paper or plastic?" is a question. "X is too Y" is an assertion. Got it?

Now for the major offense. Journalism's claim to being "objective" rests on its ability to stay grounded in the empirical world. We talk about stuff we can measure -- hence the ban on heds that talk about miracles and on photos of deities manifesting him/her/it/themselves on foodstuffs -- and we're open about the scales we use for measuring it. We try to stick with valid and reliable measures, so skeptics or critics have a good chance of getting the same answers.

OK? Let's proceed to the text.

For years, nine flags have flapped in the breeze atop Steamer's Sports Pub in east Charlotte. That changed Sunday afternoon when owner Bill Nolan climbed onto the roof and took down six American flags.

Nolan was cited May 18 for violating a city ordinance that allows his business to fly only three flags. After learning of the $350 appeal fee, Nolan decided to give in for fear of losing the bar's certificate of occupancy, he said.

See the problem? "Flags on roof of bar" is not a valid or reliable index of patriotism. It's a measure of how many flags you have on the roof of your bar and nothing else. Asking whether the display is "too patriotic" assumes that increases in patriotism are somehow indexed by increases in the amount of multicolored cloth you wave around, and that's the sort of deliberately offensive, knuckle-dragging notion that ought to be squeezed out of people before they get to grade school.

Longtime readers of the fishwrap in question have always been a bit surprised when readers accuse it of being part of the Librul Media Conspiracy. This sort of race-to-the-bottom pandering makes pretty clear where its sympathies lie. Perhaps, next time somebody deems Flags On Bar Roof to be a 1A story, the desk can appoint a designated grownup to give it the sort of hed it deserves.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I just want to know why he's flying an upside-down Texas flag.

10:30 AM, June 04, 2007  
Blogger Strayhorn said...

Aw, Charlotte is just jealous because Raleigh had had a flag flap first - and Raleigh's offender was a used car dealer.

4:53 PM, June 04, 2007  

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