Fourth Estate, Tenth Rate
After all this time, you would think it wouldn’t bother me, but, you know, it SO does.
Here is a true story: Some years ago, a Hindu man wished to be declared never married to his wife, to whom he had indeed been married in a religious ceremony by a clergyperson of their faith who was not authorized by the State of New York to perform marriages (no big deal: getting authorized as such is just a matter of going down to the Hall of Records and signing yourself into a book; Witches and other Pagans can do this now, though of course not back then). Also they had not gotten a marriage license.
Hmm. Sounds familiar. (Though the Presbyterian minister who married Jim and me was indeed state-authorized to do so, we didn’t have a license either.) (Bear with me, boys and girls.)
Anyway, the man’s contention was that the marriage had been invalid, since there was no license and the officiant wasn’t in the book. The court said Nuh-uh, not so fast, you were married validly and lawfully, before witnesses, in a proper religious ceremony, by a clergyman, good and solid, and if you want out you will need to get a divorce. This is long-standing case law in the State of New York, and I venture to say deeply relevant to my own situation.
So imagine my hurt and annoyance when I—myself and my honey having been married not hugely dissimilarly to the above individuals—once again get the quotes around the words relating to my marriage and wifely/widowed status. After thirty years, I STILL have to prove myself to people who have bought into the other side’s inventions. (Hey, and here I thought I was the one who wrote fiction...)
If they really didn’t want to use the w-words, they didn’t have to. The rag could have skirted the issue any number of ways—spouse, consort, Pagan wedding, etc.—without resorting to the sniffy practice of putting relevant words in quotes and making me look like a delusional idiot.
The “reporter” could have actually ASKED me about it, what a concept!, and I would have patiently elaborated, in little small words such as even an upstate New York supermarket-handout stringer could have understood. But he didn’t.
If it had been a gay married couple they were doing the story on, I bet they would have found all MANNER of respectful words to employ. (Or, well, maybe not...)
So let’s just see here: lack of basic reportorial technique, poor journalistic ethics, sloppy and boring and uninformed writing, nonexistent research, religious prejudice, gratuitous cruelty...OH yeah. That Pulitzer is in the bag.
I did email the “editor” to complain of the shabby treatment, of course, and got back a self-serving, misinformed, weasely screed parroting the erroneous yet widely disseminated party line. I elucidated in a second email, hopefully clearing up some of his apparently cherished misconceptions, but I doubt anything will change. Sigh. Big BIG sigh.
Hey! The New York Daily News (not the New York Post, as the Times Herald piece would mistakenly have it—I just LOVE your "accurate research", people! Are there no websites? Are there no fact-checkers?) had NO problem describing me as Jim’s wife, in the story that set all this up.
And, correct me if I’m wrong, but...the News IS a greatest-city-on-earth REAL newspaper? Like, MILLIONS more readers than the Olean Times Herald, newspaper of record for red-state-mentality upstate yokels and goat feed the day after? (Oh, ohhhKAAY, they’re probably not ALL red-state-heads...) Famous columnist and author from a family of REAL writers doing the story on me?
Right. I thought so.
Oh, and Jim used the w-word of me too. In writing. Without quotes. And he should know.