Portraits of Wildflowers

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Archive for January 31st, 2023

Time-tested technology

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Black vulture (Coragyps atratus) at Palmetto State Park on December 15, 2022.
The “time-tested technology” refers to a water tower.





Some of my commentaries have dealt with “the language police”—who apparently now would have me call them something like “people policing language.” It’s another example of the “people first” approach running rampant among ideologues. One organization pushing such things is the Associated Press (AP), which has long issued style guidelines for the wording of news stories. Those guidelines used to be sane, but now, as The Hill reported on January 27th:

The AP Stylebook’s Twitter account on Thursday posted recommendations to avoid the use of “the” before certain descriptors “such as the poor, the mentally ill, the French, the disabled, [and] the college-educated” because that phrasing can be “dehumanizing.” The post went viral with many Twitter users responding and making jokes about the inclusion of “the French.”

The French Embassy in the United States was one of the accounts that responded to the post, posting a screenshot of it changing its name from “French Embassy U.S.” to “Embassy of Frenchness in the U.S.” 

“I guess this is us now…” it commented. 


The last sentence in the article notes that according to the AP, “writers should be specific when possible, giving ‘people with incomes below the poverty line’ as an example.”

That makes me think we’ll have to update Emma Lazarus‘s poem “The New Colossus,” which appears on a bronze plaque beneath the Statue of Liberty. The best-known part will now need to be:

“Give me your people afflicted with tiredness, your people with incomes below the poverty line…”

Kinda messes up the meter, don’t you think?

On a less discordant note, you may or may not know that one of the most creative and successful immigrants ever to come to America, Irving Berlin, set the final part of Emma Lazarus’s poem to music for his 1949 show “Miss Liberty.” We’re fortunate to have a recording of Irving Berlin himself singing the song. You’re also welcome to listen to a version sung by a chorus.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman




Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 31, 2023 at 4:31 AM

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