Friday, August 8, 2014

Not Sure If This Is Positive or Not

There are things you find in newspapers until you don't.

When I was a kid, a New York Times article where sixty-nine people died in an air accident had the headline Nearly 70 Die because they didn't want to put 69 in big bold print.  I remember at one point noticing that there were far fewer "assaults" in the newspaper, but this new crime I was unfamiliar with called "rape" appeared. 

Stories would lead with "two men robbed a bank in midtown today" or "two black men robbed a bank in midtown today."  Replace "black" with whatever the correct term was, but they felt compelled to mention the race if they weren't white.  I never say "two blonde men...".  Then people called them out and that tapered off.  They did fight: there were editorials supporting the practice as helping to identify the criminals but they couldn't justify not giving more details and gave up the battle.

Of course, I don't have those bits of papyrus any longer.

There was a story a couple of days ago about a man who left a foster infant in a car.  He apparently should never have been allowed to watch kids under any circumstances ~ he was watching a Game of Thrones marathon and smoking weed.  When a baby cried on the show, he remembered he left his baby.

In days past the headline would have read Gay Foster Parent Leaves Baby to Die in Hot Car but instead the article focused on the baby reminding him he had left the child, and there was only a reference to "his husband" part way down the article.  The previous headline would generate reams of letters about how this is why gay couples should not have children (ignoring the number of straight criminal idiots there are who caused the same tragedy).  The latter made it an aside.  I'm sure there will still be letters, but not the same volume and vitriol.

So interestingly, there was an article about a guy who would drive his Range Rover in neighborhoods where there were lots of bars and lots of drunk young adults staggering about.  He'd go to a drive-through ATM and ask for their card and PIN "to pay for the ride."  You can guess how it ends.  Rolling drunks is nothing new.

The headline was Driver took drunk people home, and took their credit cardsHe thought it through though ~ he'd use a card until the owner cancelled it then he'd return it to another victim who thought it was his card.  Most victims were too drunk to remember what happened or how they got home.

And he also had a twist: way down in paragraph 6:

When police searched Mitchell’s home in Clinton, Md., in November, they found more than 200 credit cards in a shoe box.

Police also found a wig that Mitchell wore in bank surveillance videos.

In interviews that are recounted in court documents, many of the victims say they do not remember how they got home, or they recall getting into the car of a woman while intoxicated. William Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C., said that victims may have felt more comfortable getting into Mitchell’s car because he appeared to be a woman, with the wig and padded breasts.

Other passengers said they were aware that Mitchell was a man in a wig. Jason Kalafat, Mitchell’s defense attorney, said that Mitchell’s dress was “more of a lifestyle issue
[emphasis mine] and not meant to trick victims into a false sense of security.

I'm interested in what the real story behind the dressup is, but I think making it incidental is better than an article I came across recently about a crook where the headline screamed about his being a "transvestite."

We've come a long way.  We have a long way to go.  And sometimes it's a battle that can't be won.  I still regularly see letters from women saying "why do you have to mention a woman's age?  You don't mention a man's age!" or "why was it important to say what she was wearing?  You don't say what he's wearing!"

Let's see what the next decade brings.

1 comment:

  1. "The Times, They Are A Changing". News writers and editors shoud strive for fair and complete reporting and should not be too shy about offending group sensitivities but the information reported should relate to the story.
    As I observe things the concept of men in dresses or wigs from the point of view of the reader is becoming a bit more 'ho-hum' with each passing story. I think that people are evolving along your "care/don't care" scale. A decade or two ago the reading public would have had a different reaction to the drunk rolling wig wearer than they have today. It was a real concern that the reading public would jump to a conclusion that all men in wigs and dresses would use the disguise to roll drunks or that every man in a dress in a ladies room is lurking for evil events but as more and more civilians have positive encounters with T folks of every stripe we become more and more accepted.


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