A couple of items from today's Daily Progress deserve comment because of their infelicitous use of the English language (which, as Henry Higgins put it, is the language of "Shakespeare, Milton, and the Bible").
First, a Media General News Service article on page 2A about the new U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, Timothy Heaphy, refers to Heaphy as "a former federal prosecutor and most recently a white-collar criminal defense attorney in Charlottesville."
This is, as an attorney might say, facially false. The same article notes that Heaphy was sworn in on October 16, which makes him the current federal prosecutor. It would be better to say something like this:
Heaphy most recently worked as a white-collar criminal defense attorney and, before that, served as a lower-level federal prosecutor...By the way, the article does not appear on the Daily Progress web site (or at least it cannot be easily located there), but the same report can be found on the web site of the Lynchburg News & Advance, dated October 27.
Second, in a letter to the editor aimed at discouraging votes for gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell, John M. Bowman of Charlottesville uses the hamhanded and demeaning phrase, "gay and lesbian lifestyle," a formulation that betrays what might be called "soft bigotry."
I have a message for Mr. Bowman. I resent his condescension and can assure him that, as a gay man, I do not have a "lifestyle," I have a life.
Would Mr. Bowman talk about the "straight lifestyle" of opposite-sex married couples? I think not. He would, if he gave it the slightest thought, identify such a phrase as bizarre and insulting.
I frankly do not need ill-informed letter-writers deigning to speak on my behalf. If I want your "help," I'll ask for it -- but before that, take a look at a calendar. It's the 21st century now.
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