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Political correctness at the Los Angeles times.

In February Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed filed a review of the Los Angeles Opera's production of "Die Frau Ohne Schatten." As published in the paper's February 24 edition, Swed opined that "Richard Strauss' epic opera 'Die Frau Ohne Schatten' (The Woman Without a Shadow) is an incomparably glorious and goofy anti-abortion paean...."

Say again? The "epic opera" is an "anti-abortion paean"? What was Swed thinking? Actually, in his unedited manuscript Swed wrote that the opera was a "pro-life paean." But a politically correct copy editor at the Times, apparently assuming the "pro-life" reference was to abortion, substituted "anti-abortion" for "pro-life." The opera is "about children who aren't born yet screaming to be born--not abortion," Swed later explained, according to a Reuters story. "Somebody who didn't quite get it got a little bit too politically correct ... and we had a little breakdown in communications."

The Los Angeles Times published a correction saying that the review "incorrectly characterized the work as 'anti-abortion'" when in fact "there is no issue of abortion in the opera, which extols procreation." But the correction did not satisfy Swed, who was naturally concerned that readers would assume he was responsible for the mistake. So the Times decided to safeguard their critic's reputation by publishing a second correction, which stated that the first correction "should have made clear" that the "lead paragraph submitted by the reviewer was incorrectly changed to include the term 'anti-abortion.'"

But the second correction violated a Times policy that "corrections will not assign blame." This violation prompted a memo from Jamie Gold, the paper's readers' representative, reminding the staff of the policy. "The thinking is that readers don't care who made the mistake," Gold wrote.

True enough. But readers should care about "political correctness"--particularly when a copy editor is so imbued with the doctrine that he will reflexively change "pro-life" to "anti-abortion" even in instances where the "pro-life" reference has nothing to do with the abortion issue. Of course, the same copy editor could hardly be expected to change "pro choice" to "pro-abortion"--not if he wants to continue working at the Los Angeles Times.
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Title Annotation:Insider Report
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Apr 5, 2004
Words:355
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