January 30, 2004



The New York Times and Slate are following 50 Cent's lead--more beef means everyone eats. The Landesman fracas will soon have its own section in Borders. Tempers are subsiding, though. I would like to see more non-white and/or non-men weighing in, especially as Mexico is central to the original piece. This has probably happened and I don't know about it. Lemme know if so.

Aaron Wherry of Toronto's National Post made this point: "I think the fallout to the NYT sex slave story has a lot to do with a general backlash against poorly documented "trend" pieces. I don't know if anyone necessarily doubts the relative truth of these pieces as much as they are suspicious of the media and shoddy evidence. Wasn't there a similar kerfuffle surrounding a NYT piece on AIDS and black men? And I seem to recall the same arguments being made about a piece by some publication somewhere that said there was an epidemic of gay men who actively pursued HIV/AIDS."

Good point. It is worth calibrating and acknowledging the Xray vision you think you're running. A piece about bugchasing gays reads as scare-mongering and demonizing to me. That's my political take on the rhetoric: If bugchasing isn't an imminent threat to the larger population and if it's not something you can do anything about (my eternal objection to the local fires and stabbings in 11 o'clock newscasts), then why run the story except for senastionalist color? Of course a bugchasing piece will make people ratchet up their latent homophobia. (The ritual abuse meme springs to mind, etc.) Since gays are not exactly overburdened with social, symbolic or economic power, I'd feel very tentative about running a piece that wasn't absolutely factually tight (were I an editor--duh--and if I had the desire to run it at all). But that's my politics. I am fine with that.

The Landesman piece, were it fudgy, would represent a different kind of misrepresentation. Who gets a bad rap in the piece--men, police, pedophiles, traffickers, coyotes, scumbags--are members of cohorts that I don't protect or favor in my brain. If these people get a little more heat than they scientifically "deserve," I will shed no tears. And I think the Landesman piece absolutely implicates and addresses everybody. You CAN do something about a rapaciously sexualized society, and the dissolution of identity that children are facing in the All Midriff, All Viagra datastream. And, further, may I say, like, what? There are going to be manbashings across America now because of the Landesman piece? Normative privilege would never allow it.

I wouldn't critique anyone's critique on the basis of "journalistic integrity" or any shit like that. I don't believe in agenda-free writing. It doesn't exist. I don't even particularly care about logroling. (Oh, maybe I do sometimes. Just stop, Sasha.) There may be an EB White Objective Reporting Ruler™ somewhere that would measure Landesman unfavorably, but that's baseball. Who wants to pretend they don't have a bias? There's a war going on outside, etc.

Posted by Sasha at January 30, 2004 01:48 PM | TrackBack