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NY Times Can’t Wait To Use ‘Ms. Chelsea Manning’

From the New York Times:

The Soldier Formerly Known as Bradley Manning

By MARGARET SULLIVAN | August 22, 2013

Pfc. Bradley Manning told the world on Thursday that he identifies as a woman and wishes to be known from now on as Chelsea Manning.

Ms. Sullivan is the New York Times’ so-called Public Editor. It is her job to explain the rarified thinking of the editors at The Times to its nincompoop readers.

The development sent Times editors scrambling to their stylebooks and to past articles on other transgender cases of well-known people for guidance.

This is vitally import;ant because the editors at ‘The Old Gay (sic) Lady’ realize they set the standards for the proper treatment of homosexuals. After all, homosexuality is their ‘magnificent obsession.’

But there is no precise comparison, given the extraordinary prominence of the United States Army soldier who was sentenced to 35 years in prison this week for his leaking of documents.

Manning has "extraordinary prominence" for The Times because he is not only an admitted homosexual, he has also betrayed his country by revealing national security leaks. In fact, if he worked for The Times, he would be showered with countless promotions and Pulitzers.

Here is the entry on it from The Times’s [sic] “Manual of Style and Usage,” a guidebook used by reporters and editors throughout the newsroom:

transgender (adj.) is an overall term for people whose current identity differs from their sex at birth, whether or not they have changed their biological characteristics. Cite a person’s transgender status only when it is pertinent and its pertinence is clear to the reader. Unless a former name is newsworthy or pertinent, use the name and pronouns (he, his, she, her, hers) preferred by the transgender person. If no preference is known, use the pronouns consistent with the way the subject lives publicly.

Susan Wessling, the deputy editor who supervises The Times’s copy editors, told me that there are two important considerations. “We want to respect the preferences of the subject,” she said, “and we want to provide clarity for readers.”

Isn’t it funny how this same New York Times refrains from ever calling ‘home grown’ terrorists, like the Beltway Snipers (John Allen Williams and Lee Boyd Malvo), by their preferred Muslim names (John Allen Muhammad and Malik Malvo). Why is that?

Toward that end, she said, “We’ll probably use more words than less.” In other words, The Times will explain the change in stories.

“We can’t just spring a new name and a new pronoun” on readers with no explanation, she said. She noted the importance in the stylebook entry of the words “unless a former name is newsworthy or pertinent,” which certainly applies here.

An article on The Times’s Web site on Thursday morning on the gender issue continued to use the masculine pronoun and courtesy title. That, said the associate managing editor Philip B. Corbett, will evolve over time.

Isn’t evolution wonderful?

It’s tricky, no doubt. But given Ms. Manning’s preference, it may be best to quickly change to the feminine and to explain that — rather than the other way around.

Not amount of trouble is too much. Since the editors at The Times know that if they can change the language and redefine the most basic terms, they can control the debate and thereby control the agenda. After all, words are just tools to power.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, August 23rd, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “NY Times Can’t Wait To Use ‘Ms. Chelsea Manning’”

  1. GetBackJack says:

    Declaring you’re really a woman in a man’s body just as you’re incarcerated in a Male Military Prison seems either a dreadful lapse of sensibility or clever advertising.

    • USSFreedom says:

      Ga-ran-tee he will be treated (read used) like a woman for a long, long time by his fellow inmates.

  2. yadayada says:

    so if I commit a headline grabbing atrocity and then went ’round claiming I was emperor because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, would they refer to me as emperor?

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