Letters to the Editor

PW readers sound off.

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted Apr. 20, 2010

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Regarding Tara Murtha’s column about the inappropriate use of words in the media:

We need to hold Fox accountable for the ways in which it distorts information. When victims are portrayed as willing participants, people’s lives and safety are at risk. Remember that Fox, like all TV media and most news media, exists for the sole purpose of selling advertisements. The subject of rape should and does make people uncomfortable. Fox has decided, as usual, that its audience is more likely to keep watching if the news is very digestible, so it chooses to appeal to the lowest common denominator of people who would rather hear a distorted truth than face something as awful as children being gang-raped in their own backyards.

But in doing so, Fox replaces the agency of the victims to tell their stories with a story that assigns them false agency, implicating them in their own injuries.

ANDREW P. CROWLEY via philadelphiaweekly.com

So I feel like the point of this article is that adopting softened language for despicable events by the media aid the public’s unconscious sympathy toward the perpetrator. The interesting thing is, on a network that so routinely sells ideology and policy to individuals who embrace it despite its negative consequences in “real life,” what is the advantage of this softened language, especially in regards to sex crimes against females and minors?

A network with a unapologetic lean toward radical conservative politics backhands women, children and rape victims unintentionally through their choice of words? Just a coincidence or sign of the times?

Word choice and the choice of perspective that it highlights is always a product of the underlying moral code and ideological bent of the speaker, and the fact that Fox news is consistently making this mistake is just another example of how far they have strayed from objectivity.

ELIZABETH FLYNN via philadelphiaweekly.com

The convolutions in Tara Murtha’s reasoning are mind-boggling. She would have us believe that calling sex, sex, constitutes “erroneous reporting” if one of those involved is under the legal age of consent. What exactly has Fox 29 gotten wrong? According to police and prosecutors, men over the age of 18 had sex with a 12-year-old boy in one case and a 7-year-old girl in the other. The station reported the facts. People were arrested in both cases, and the station reported this fact too. By doing so they conveyed to their viewers that the alleged actions are illegal.

Consider an analogous case. In a hostage situation it might be reported that at one point the captive danced with her captor. Would anyone infer from the use of the words “danced with” that the dancing was consensual? The readers would apply their knowledge of the context in judging the situation.

Murtha objects to Fox 29 letting viewers judge the facts for themselves. Instead of only conveying the government position on who can consent to sex, she wants them to actively incorporate that judgment into their language by using the word rape, making it officially their position and not just the state’s.

ERIC HAMELL, Philadelphia

Legal Aid

Regarding Daniel Denvir’s recent Q&A with District Attorney Seth Willams:

Who cares that he’s black? We’re not going to be a colorblind society until the media quits pointing it out every chance it gets. He’s our newest DA, period. I wish him luck in ridding Philly of the scum that prevents it from being a great city. Hopefully he’ll start in City Hall.

VINCE via philadelphiaweekly.com

How come no one ever mentions our new DA’s abysmal track record in the prosecutor’s office?

STEVE TWEEDY via philadelphiaweekly.com

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Comments 1 - 2 of 2
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1. Anonymous said... on Apr 21, 2010 at 09:00AM

“what continues to blow my mind is that everyone focused on Fox News...and not the actual point of the story...amazing.”

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2. John English said... on Oct 7, 2011 at 10:59AM

“Dear Sleepless in Philadelphia,

When you wake up in your $320 North Face tent outside of City Hall and log on to your Facebook account from your “I” phone, I hope this finds you well. If you really want to make a difference fighting poverty, then volunteer at Manna or the Broad Street Ministry or another social organization that fight poverty 365 days a year. This would make mommy and daddy much more proud of you, rather than sleeping outside of Mike Nutter’s office. Since you are already missing class today, on your mom and dad’s dime, I will give you a brief lesson in social economics. If there is no upper class, then there is no middle class and with no middle class, then there is no lower class. This is something that they do not teach you at UPenn. Think about this when you are having your $4 cup of Joe at Starbucks. And stay the hell out of my way when I’m trying to get to work and to provide for my family.

PS: how is that “Hope and Change “ working out for”


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