15 March 2004
We're just saying
So-called "scare quotes" are a useful rhetorical tool, put to use when you'd just as soon distance yourself from what's being said. Reuters, an international "news agency," has a reputation for such things.
Michael Bates suspects the Tulsa World was using this technique to discredit, ever so subtly, a City Council candidate they opposed editorially:
For some unexplained reason, the Whirled insisted on referring to the Republican nominee as Jason "Eric" Gomez. The man's full name is, in fact, Jason Eric Gomez. This is how he is listed in voter registration records. But like a lot of people (including my dad), he is known by his middle name. There is nothing shifty or unusual about this practice, but the scare quotes suggest that an alias is being used, or perhaps he is some sort of eccentric or "colorful character", like Virginia "Blue Jeans" Jenner or Cowboy "Pink" Williams.
And why would this bit of trivia be an issue?
[W]hen a voter doesn't know much about the candidates or their stands on the issues, any minor thing may be enough to tip his decision one way or another. A voter can grasp at anything that would suggest one of the candidates is unreliable or just odd in some way. And in such a close race less than one vote per precinct it may have made the difference.
Especially since Mr Gomez' opponent was given no such "text decoration" in the World.
TrackBack: 10:57 PM, 15 March 2004
» More about "scare quotes" from batesline.com
Oklahoma City blogger Charles G. Hill over at Dustbury linked to my item about scare quotes in the District 4 City Council race. His first paragraph links to an example of Reuters' use of scare quotes, and that article links to this Weekly Standard col......[read more]