Monday, April 28, 2008

Go away or I shall taunt you again

Hey, see if you can guess what the favorite verb over to the Fair-n-Balanced Network was today?

Rev. Wright Taunts Journalists, Blasts Government
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright grabbed the spotlight for the fourth day in a row Monday with a taunting and mocking speech that once again cast a shadow on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

Sigh. You can have all sorts of fun with Fox's coverage of the Wright events, down to and including this rant from the "executive" "vice" "president" for "news." But that would end up obscuring the ultimate point, which is that Jeremiah Wright really isn't a pertinent political story. In a way, that's a shame. On the (plenteous) evidence, Wright is strikingly witty, adept at improvising, well read, and not inclined to take much in the way of stick from anybody. (Come on, NPR listeners; wouldn't you rather listen to his analysis than Cokie Roberts'?) But he's right. He isn't running for office, so it's about time to ring down the curtain and return to the folks who are.

Should you want to persist, though, I have a suggestion (and it's a framing suggestion, so you know it's methodologically sound). Every time you see a phrase like "embattled pastor" or "controversial pastor" introducing Wright on first reference, try replacing it with "former Marine." (It'll work with appositives on second reference too.)

Really. Try it. Framing isn't an accident, and it isn't a reflection of some impartial reality toward which we bow. It's a series of deliberate choices. Why not make them sensible ones?


Blogger Denise said...

Ahhh, sneaky sneaky. Trying to get me in trouble with all those retired leathernecks for calling someone a "former Marine." Don't you know that's one of the most sure-fire ways to get angry letters other than moving crossword puzzles?

A Marine ia never a "former Marine." He is a Marine for life, semper blah blah blah.

(This is one of those early-career lectures that was so drummed into my head that it will never escape.)

4:23 PM, April 29, 2008  
Blogger fev said...

OK, just for you, you can make him a "Marine veteran."

I've heard the no-former-Marines contention too, tho I can't remember whether it was on the job or in conversation. FWIW, a quick check with the search function at Leatherneck magazine turns up a number of uses of "former Marine," both in letters to the editor and in what looks to be edited copy. So ... it's there, but I'd be hesitant to class it as a rule.

Further input, of course, is welcome. Y'all have at it.

1:10 PM, May 02, 2008  

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