Please don’t read this post. I shouldn’t even be writing it. It’s nitpicky, and it’s about semantics and editing. No one cares. I’m embarrassed that I’ve given the matter this much thought.
But have they laid off all the editors at the Dallas Morning News? I ask because Jacquielynn Floyd’s column today reads like it went straight from her Commodore 64 to the printing press. In Leading Off this morning, I alluded to the odd subject matter, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s overdose. I don’t get why that’s the concern of a Metro columnist in Dallas. Maybe if she’d met the guy. Maybe if she herself battled heroin addiction. But Floyd’s only connection to the topic seems to be that she knows someone who posted an insensitive Hoffman comment on Facebook. Forget all that, though. Never mind that an editor should have asked Floyd what she planned to write and then gently suggested another topic. “What? You’re going to use Hoffman’s overdose as a launching point to say drugs aren’t cool? Seriously? Is your next column going to say that sharing is good?”
No, let’s skip all that and just focus on the execution. Here are the first two sentences of Floyd’s column:
Should we blame Philip Seymour Hoffman for his own death? It’s not a rhetorical question, but a literal one.
It’s a literal question? As opposed to a metaphorical question? “It’s not a rhetorical question.” Period. That’s all you need to say, and I’ll understand: it’s a question.
For people who care about quality in the movies they see, [Hoffman's] passing is a tangible loss.
A “tangible loss” is a brain teaser that generates a 404 error in my head. How can you touch something that is gone? Small matter. I also wonder about the people who care about quality in the movies they don’t see. Because those people care about too much stuff that doesn’t affect them. Next up:
For a lot of people, [addiction] is a grueling, sometimes humiliating uphill struggle that has to be renewed every single day.
Many doctors view it as a chronic disease that requires lifelong management — a Herculean task at which many sufferers will inevitably fail.
This is the one that really got me. You don’t need a classical education to know that the first sentence — an uphill struggle that must be repeated — makes allusion to Sisyphus. So why, then, in the very next sentence, would Floyd say that fighting addiction is a Herculean task? The story of Sisyphus comes to us from Greek mythology. Hercules, as everyone knows, is Kevin Sorbo.
I respectfully and literally request that someone at the paper read the words before they are printed. Please. I know it is a Sisyphean task. Every day, more words come. But if you don’t read them before they are published, I will be forced to cancel my subscription. And then you won’t be able to touch me.