Sunday, May 28, 2006

Double Header

May 28 2006

These two gems are courtesy of Eric Barajas of KSAT news in San Antonio. They occurred in the local news segment of a Headline News broadcast. The beauty of these two babies is that they were borne of the same story! It’s a safe bet that he (or his writer) didn’t major in English in kollege. Enjoy!

“A twenty-eight-year-old father is accused of allegedly trying to set his own house on fire…”
How does one come to be accused of the act of allegedly setting a fire? Can one actually allegedly set a fire? Somehow I think not.

“He’s in jail on bond for twenty-thousand dollars for two charges of child endangerance.”
Endangerance? You’ve got to be kidding me. They must have an intern writing (and coining) this weekend.


jules said...

OMG, Carlos, I should have been paying attention this week while lounging on the couch. I'm sure we have many here in the Big D as well. Especially with all the Mavs Hoopla.

Greek Shadow said...

"Allegedly" is legal CYA for the news. They can't state directly that a person set their house on fire until they've been convicted.
Love this site since I used to be an English teacher, and my wife is an assistant editor on a newspaper; she'll love it too.

Karlos said...

Hi Greek, and thanks for visiting!

I understand the need for using the word “allegedly” because of legal ramifications; however it was unnecessary in this context because they were merely reporting what the authorities had accused him of doing, not what the person had done.

In this situation, it was a stone-cold fact that the father had been accused by the authorities; therefore, the word “allegedly” was unnecessary.

My point is that the sentence is flawed. A person cannot be accused of “allegedly” doing something; he or she must be accused of actually doing something.

If the newscaster had reported it differently, “allegedly” might have been appropriate.


Here’s a scenario.

--A neighbor hits me with a brick.
--My wife sees it and calls the police.

--The police arrest and book the neighbor on assault.

Has the neighbor been arrested for assaulting me or has the neighbor allegedly been arrested for assaulting me?

There is no question that the neighbor has been arrested, therefore reporting that the neighbor was ”allegedly arrested for assault would be false.

That scenario could be reported a few ways:

1. “A San Antonio man has been arrested, accused of hitting Carlos with a brick.” He has been arrested and accused of hitting Carlos with a brick; no question about it.
2. “The man who allegedly hit Carlos with a brick has been arrested.” “Alleged” would be legally prudent to use in this case because without it they are reporting the act as a fact when it has not been proven yet.
3. “Carlos’ wife alleges that the neighbor hit Carlos with a brick. Carlos’ wife is alleging (accusing) the neighbor. Simple enough.
4. “A San Antonio man has been charged with assault and battery because he is alleged to have hit Carlos with a brick.” The man has been charged. What he has done is alleged and unproven; therefore this is another prudent use of “alleged.”

rynnac said...

Love the blog Carlos. You misspelled the word two as "to" in this post, just thought I'd point that out.

Carlos said...

Rynnac: Eek!! I guess that's one of the pitfalls of typing 100wpm; my fingers work faster than my brain thinks these days ;-)

Thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you like the blog. I've been neglecting it a bit lately though :-(