Wednesday, September 20, 2006

How the So-Called "Liberal" Mainstream Print Media Covered the English-Only Debate

The reliability of this morning's print coverage of last night's Metro Council English-only debate is mixed.

Bill Harless at the Nashville City Paper reported that Metro Council "passed a significantly neutralized version" of Crafton's English-only ordinance. Harless does not attribute the adjective "neutralized" to the sponsors or any bill-supporter, so I am left to conclude that such a description is his own. However, suggesting that Crafton's substitute bill is more "neutral" is a matter of perspective and not a matter of objective fact. To be neutral means to not be aligned with, supporting, or favoring either side in a war, dispute, or contest. How is Crafton's substitute bill neutral in this dispute over making English the "official" language? It may be more neutral to right-wingers who desire that no form of government communication ever be in any other language but English, but it is hardly neutral for "English-only" opponents who believe that the council does not need to start mandating which languages Metro chooses to communicate with Metro residents. As such, Harless' report indicates a bias in favor of Crafton's measure. Calling it neutral gives the bill more credibility and legitimacy, and such conservative commentary is not Harless' job.

The Tennessean's Michael Cass' own reportage was actually pretty close to fitting the actual definition of neutrality. He calling Crafton's substitute bill a "diluted English proposal." To dilute can mean "to lessen the force, strength, purity, or brilliance of." The substitute bill was indeed lessened in force, strength, and purity from its predecessor (which was about as brilliant as a bag full of hammers). To call the proposal "diluted" allows readers to develop their own positive, negative, or neutral responses, and it does not seem to indicate a bias either for or against the English-only ordinance. So, I could not detect any hint of bias in Cass' writing, one way or the other. He could teach Harless a couple of things about objective reporting.

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