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English As It Is Spoke


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In regards to the City Council Follies article on affirmative action by Cate Plys in the March 17, 1995, issue of the Reader. I find it interesting to note that Ms. Plys quotes a remark made by Alderman Brian Doherty in which he stated that "it (affirmative action) is dividing a wedge between people." She followed this quote with a sarcastic remark of her own by stating, "Yes, those were his exact words," evidently referring to Mr. Doherty's mistaken use of the word dividing when he obviously meant to use the word driving.

On one hand Ms. Plys finds it necessary to comment on Alderman Doherty's mistaken use of one word. Although on the other hand in the same article she completely neglects to comment on the butchering of the English language by former Alderman Dexter Watson. In regards to his desire to see Mayor Daley defeated, Ms. Plys quotes Alderman Watson as saying, "Tell 'im! We're not gon' let him be the mayor no longer!" It is interesting that Ms. Plys found it necessary to make a cute remark on Mr. Doherty's mistake, although was suspiciously silent when it came to Mr. Watson's errors. Gee, I wonder if the fact that Mr. Doherty is white and is against affirmative action, and that Mr. Watson is black and for affirmative action had anything to do with why she criticized Doherty and not Watson. I guess good old "bleeding heart liberalism" rears its ugly head again, but then what else would you expect from the Reader.

Michael Smith


Cate Plys replies:

Mr. Smith may not realize that the worst verbal crimes committed by public officials are usually cleaned up in regular news accounts. The Sun-Times, for instance, reported that Alderman Brian Doherty said affirmative action has "driven a wedge" between people, rather than "dividing." I revel in quoting all aldermen verbatim. When this merely involves the "butchering of the English language," as Mr. Smith describes Alderman Dexter Watson's speech, the accurate quotation is itself a sufficiently sarcastic remark. In Doherty's case his words were confusing enough that I wished to make clear to readers that the quote was correct, not a misprint or mistake on my part. I refuse to accept blame for not mocking Alderman Dexter Watson sufficiently. The last time I checked, not one of my vital organs was hemorrhaging.

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