So I'm still stewing about something from yesterday and am going to vent a bit.
I worked on an Op/Ed piece that bugged me. A lot. To bolster the arguments that were being made in the article, the author included a discussion of the accidental death of a young woman that came about because of human error. He began by describing this as "The tragic death of [her name], a beautiful....."
Yes. Her death was tragic, it shouldn't have happened. No doubt about it. Her grieving father was furious, and he launched a crusade that had far reaching effects. A law was passed because of it. A major change was made in the way some things are done because of it.
But was her death any more tragic because, as the author put it, she was "beautiful"? What if she hadn't been beautiful? What if she had been homely? News flash: Her death would still have been as tragic.
I thought about deleting the word, but I didn't. Out of curiosity, I found her picture on the Internet, and the girl really was attractive. Copyeditors walk a fine line sometimes. We are supposed to fix errors in grammar and punctuation and that sort of thing, and not necessarily edit to our personal opinions.
And to borrow shamelessly from colleagues
on the Copyediting list group...
Grant me the serenity . . .So, I let it stand as the author had it. I wasted about 20 minutes trying to insert a query to the author about whether her being "beautiful" was relevant, but I couldn't figure out a diplomatic way to say what I wanted to say. I came very close to venting in an e-mail that might have come back to bite me in the butt had I clicked the send button. Fortunately, I didn't. Ya'll get to hear it instead.
to recognize the prose I should not change,
the ability to improve the prose I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Thanks for listening. And now I feel much better.