Monday, June 30, 2008

How Not To Do Editing

One of the things you learn quickly doing blogging is how to quote what other people have written. It's pretty basic - you cut and paste it into matching BLOCKQUOTE macros. If there's anything that might be unclear, put the correction in square brackets. Here's an example of a quote from an earlier article:

[Obama could] just announce that it would happen over his cold, dead filibuster. Or he'd ask to put a hold on the bill. Even the dimmest majority leader, a category that probably includes Harry Reid, wouldn't risk an open fight with his party's presidential nominee. So if Obama had told Reid that the grotesquely-named "Protect America Act" was a non-starter, it would sit in committee until the end of the session.

Help Us, Obama-Wan

See how that works? The part in square brackets shows the meaning of the pronoun it replaced. There's a link to the source of the quote so that readers can verify that I got it right. I've checked links from quotes at dozens of websites. They don't all do it exactly the way I do, but they all do this somehow. I have yet to catch one changing words willy-nilly because they found them less satisfactory than other words.

Which brings us to these clowns. A group calling itself "American Family Association" has apparently decided it doesn't want to see the word "gay" anywhere on its website, preferring the word "homosexual". Hey, we all have style guides, but they're supposed to be applied to our own writing, not to someone else's when we're quoting them. To do otherwise is intellectually dishonest. Of course, as PZ Myers observes, intellectual dishonesty is the stock in trade of such groups:

It seems the American Family Association, which you can tell from the name is yet another institution that has mistaken "patriarchy" for "family"*, was a little overzealous in their use of search and replace, and renamed an athlete named Tyson Gay briefly.

*Try it! Just mentally substitute "patriarchy" for "family" in the title of every right-wing organization that uses the term in their name, and it will suddenly make so much more sense.

“Mr Homosexual” would be an awesome name

I must admit, it works for me.

Apparently, the AFA have been using some sort of automated editor on their site. Steve Benen notes:

But the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow website takes the phenomenon one step further with its AP articles. The far-right fundamentalist group replaces the word “gay” in the articles with the word “homosexual.” I’m not entirely sure why, but it seems to make the AFA happy. The group is, after all, pretty far out there.

Note to the religious right: auto-replace is not your friend

How intellectually dishonest do you have to be to do this sort of thing? I suppose it's to be expected of people who believe their god is both capable of designing a disease that will only kill the first born of one particular nation-state, and at the same time not be able to figure out how to get rid of "homosexuals" when they believe he despises them so much.

Whatever the twisted logic is that causes them to do this, it doesn't apply here. If I've misquoted something, let me know.

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