I was published this morning.
In the "Mailbag" (aka: Letters to the Editor) section of the Register-Guard, our local newspaper.
What fired me up was a headline which appeared a few days ago above an article about a trio of 20-ish siblings who'd been "spinning cookies" in their car, the driver allegedly drunk. The headline referred to the behavior as "driving antics."
Antics? Really? Dictionary.com, my handy ready-reference, defines antic(s) as "a playful trick or prank." To my mind, there is nothing playful, tricky or prankish about such behavior. And I imagine—would like to imagine—that most grown-ups agree with me on that.
Don't worry. However worthy a rant, I'm not going to lecture about drinking and driving. (I'll leave that to MADD, which has spent three decades working to get that particular message across.) My beef is with sloppy language—in this case, the sloppy editing that allowed a headline to equate reckless endangerment with playground hijinks.
I can't speak to what led the writer of that particular headline to miscast the word "antics," though I can theorize aplenty: Was it a lack of understanding of the actual definition of the word? Tone-deafness to the nuances of meaning? A biased perspective on the seriousness of driving while impaired? Perhaps it was a simple matter of economy, the word chosen for the purpose of meeting that day's space requirements. Regardless of the reason, the choice of one word over another can make a huge difference in the message we send.
Today's editor didn't have to print my letter with its stinging tone. But it was printed. I like to think that my message was heard. That it was important enough to pass along.
Our voices matter. Words matter. Choose wisely.
Nancy Carol Moody
I'm a poet and a letter-writer. Yup, that kind. The kind who uses pens and paper and actual stamps. The kind who will leave the house with nothing on the agenda but to get to the mailbox before the scheduled pick-up time. The kind who understands that technology is a wondrous thing, but nothing quite beats finding a real letter with a real stamp on it amid the credit card solicitations, pizza coupons and seminar catalogs.