John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and random topics. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. The original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/, at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/, and now at https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/columnists/mcintyre/
Tuesday, July 7, 2020
I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR BEING CAUCASIAN
Not that anyone has actually asked you to do that. What you have been asked to do is acknowledge that, even if you are not prosperous, the color of your skin has given you some unearned advantages in our society. For example, if a police officer stops you for a defective taillight and you do not worry that you might wind up in jail, or perhaps be shot, then you enjoy white privilege.
But extra credit for using Caucasian, even though it is a made-up racial identifier. It at least shows that you have learned not to shout "White power!" in public.
I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR SUPPORTING GOOD COPS
It doesn't require strenuous effort to approve of people who do their jobs properly. The question is what you're prepared to do about the number of police officers increasingly demonstrated to be abusing their powers and killing unarmed people who have committed little or no offense.
I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR LOVING MY ASIAN, NATIVE AMERICAN, BLACK AMERICAN & HISPANIC FRIENDS
This is a refreshing twist on the "Some of my best friends are ..." cliche, even though the original was never convincing either.
I WILL NOT BEND MY KNEE FOR ANYONE BUT THE LORD
Did anyone ask you to?
I WILL NOT BE BRAINWASHED BY THE MEDIA
There are lots of media, not just one. Which are you watching? The ones that present facts or the ones that just tell you things you would like to hear?
I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR BELIEVING IN THE SECOND AMENDMENT
I'm not sure how this one became more important than all the others. The 21st is nice.
Oh wait, this is the one that says you have to have guns for when the Black people and the brown people swarm out of the cities into the suburbs and countryside to rape and pillage.
Had you heard that the Supreme Court has affirmed that the states can legitimately impose restrictions on the acquisition and use of classes of firearms?
I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR BEING A GOD FEARING AMERICAN
Left the hyphen out of that one.
But you've discovered that there's another amendment to the Constitution, the First, which is still in force, giving you freedom to worship as it suits you. But not, you understand, to use the power of the state to compel other people to conform to your beliefs.
There you go. Take your imagined grievances with you and shut the door behind you.
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Mr. Puente assembled the information through his own research, because the city government kept no account of how much it was spending to settle these lawsuits. He further discovered that some officers had been involved in repeated settlements but that the police department kept no account of officers charged with brutality.
Inferences are inescapable: Baltimore's city officials and police department operated under a tacit policy that officers could beat people up, particularly African Americans, at will, and paying an occasional settlement was simply the cost of doing business to maintain order in the city.
The Sun's reporting was one element that contributed to a Department of Justice's finding that police officers in the city were repeatedly and freely violating citizens' rights, often brutally, and the police department is attempting to implement reforms under a consent decree overseen by a federal judge.
Subsequent reporting in The Sun on the department's elite Gun Trace Task Force detailed a disturbing pattern of lawbreaking: wanton attacks on individuals, robberies of drug trade suspects, involvement in selling drugs, lying in reports, falsifying overtime, and more. Members of the unit and some who were involved with them have been tried and sentenced to prison, and the unit has been disbanded.
Inferences are inescapable: It seems unlikely that all their fellow officers were unaware that something shady was going on for months. And the department, under a series of chiefs and a revolving roster of upper-level commanders, seems to have been disinclined to exercise even modest supervision.
Now there is a nationwide protest about police misconduct, fueled by the ubiquity of cellphone cameras and images of police officers beating people up and shooting unarmed people. These aren't accusations to be buried in internal investigation files; these are actions that everyone can see. Moreover, we see some officers, evidently unhappy that their actions are being recorded, attacking news photographers.
In reaction to the protests I see people posting on Facebook and Twitter that we should stand by and support the police, that there are many good police officers, that people are personally acquainted with some of those good police officers.
That's not the point. I, too, have known honest and responsible police officers. The point is that the good officers are not the officers establishing police culture. It's nice to know that there are good apples, but they are not defining the barrel. The point of the protests is to find a way to maintain order and protect people in our towns and cities without promiscuously beating people up and shooting the unarmed.
If your "Support the police" meme amounts to no more than "Let them do anything," then your personal acquaintance with a few good guys on the force is pretty much meaningless.
Friday, May 8, 2020
Throughout those forty years I've listened to a drumbeat of complaints about media bias, most of it coming from people who dislike factual reporting that doesn't suit their preferences.
(Media bias, though, is real. You want to know where it exists? Most journalism reflects the viewpoint of middle-class white people, because that's who most journalists have been, and that's who most of the subscribers have been.)
But I've listened to four decades of this codswallop, and I'm sixty-nine years old and tired of it.
Just today, in a Facebook exchange with people Back Home in Kentucky, some person I don't (fortunately) know commented, "Documented evidence? Since when does a reporter care about documented evidence? Only when it suits their ideology."
I responded, "If what you know about journalism is no more than this ignorant remark, I can’t see that there’s any reason to pay any attention to you ever again."
I'm tried of coddling these people. Try to reason with them and offer actual evidence, and they simply resort to calling you a "libtard" or some other schoolyard insult. You never, ever get a response that addresses the merits.
So, no more Mr. Nice Guy.
Sunday, April 19, 2020
Two of those students, Annabelle Finagin and Dominika Ortonowski, worked on bringing the book to publication during the academic year, even in the tumultuous current semester. My gratitude to them is profound, and I hope that Apprentice House Press helps propel them into careers.
I am also deeply grateful to Kevin Atticks, the faculty member who oversees Apprentice House, and who has now consented to publish me twice, despite having endured the trauma of being a student in my first editing class at Loyola.
And now for a brief and crass commercial announcement: Both Bad Advice and my previous book, The Old Editor Says, are available online from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, in print and electronic forms. They are short, but cheap.
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Tuesday, April 14, 2020
Now, as we are isolated by the coronavirus pandemic, those late afternoons have taken on a new flavor.
Our children are isolated and our constant concern. Kathleen's parents are isolated at their retirement home and also our concern. Our other relatives are our concern. And though we take precautions, staying at home generally and going out with the masks Kathleen has sewn for us, we know the hazards. it's quite possible that either of us will contract the ccoronavirus. It's possible that we will not display any symptoms and it will all be over. It's possible that one of us will develop symptoms and be dead within five days with lungs full of fluid.
We know how many have suffered already.
That makes those evenings on the porch, which I mark with posts and photos on Facebook and Twitter, not a display of our indulgences, but a gesture of defiance.
In the face of this terrible threat, we will celebrate our time together, enjoy our company with the marks of domestic routines and the celebration of commonplace shared pleasures, shared with our community of friends and acquaintances.
This is what we have. This is what we can do.
Monday, March 16, 2020
Then off for a walk in the sun with Kathleen to pick up her car at the repair shop. Daffodils and blooms all around. Spring has arrived without our having had winter. I put the snow shovel in the garage.
The mundane tasks, laundry and bill paying, resume.
Online, the clamor that the coronavirus is some Democratic plot has died down, and some participants even appear to have been schooled in the mathematics of exponential increase. Still, though, the occasional slur about George Soros, indicating that blaming the Jews is a sturdy response in the West. I ponder unfriending and blocking acquaintances who bombard me with dumbass right-wing memes. Life now seems too short to endure all that.
Instructed by my daughter in the technicalities of Zoom, I am more or less prepared to participate in tonight's meeting of Memorial Episcopal Church's vestry, our first disembodied session.
Quiet dinner to come with Kathleen, since Maryland's bars and restaurants have shut down. (Unknown when we will be able to resume taking the healing waters with our little coterie.)
Two days off to come and a day of work from home before I return to The Sun, where my colleagues still labor under difficult circumstances to bring you clear and verified information, despite jackass nonsense about "the media."
Like you, we watch the numbers of cases rise, worrying if we are unknowingly harboring the coronavirus, waiting to hear if it has taken people we know. Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year begins to sound eerily like what we are experiencing, and we hope that our efforts to separate ourselves, and others' efforts, will blunt the impact of the disease, and decrease the losses.
I listen as I write to a recording of symphonies by Dr. Arne, which echo a world of grace, balance, and order, to which I hope we can return.