Friday, March 10, 2006

Yeah, uuh, cool "post".

A recent LA Times article combined two things that I really like -- tactical use of "quotation marks" and making something seem like a big deal because it wasn't common knowledge.

I've talked to Brando about this a lot, that is, how people use "quotes" for their own evil purposes. Here are some examples:

  • Uuh, did you get a load of his "wife"?
  • Yeah, I suppose that girl has a nice "face".
  • Brando's a pretty "smart" guy.


    The article is entitled U.S. Setting Up Special Forces Operations in Embassies. Allow me to point out some of the Tactical Use of Quotations (TUOQ).

  • Sample 1
    Navy Lt. Cmdr. Steve Mavica, a spokesman for Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., said the teams are known as "military liaison elements" and operate as single individuals or small groups.

  • Sample 2
    Bryan Whitman, a senior Pentagon spokesman, said the program was started "a couple of years ago" but was not more specific

  • Sample 3
    The newspaper said the liaison teams gather intelligence on terrorists. Whitman would say only that they help provide a regional military commander with improved "situational awareness," a term generally synonymous with intelligence.

    I bet for someone who knows nothing about the military, nothing about intelligence gathering (and how many methods are used), and what kind of job Special Forces guys do, this article would seem pretty scary. Like there are these steely-eyed, green faced men skulking around our embassies, carrying out raids and torturing people, instead of what it really is, which is more like chubby dudes in their late 30s wearing Hawaiian shirts and schmoozing with the local populace and local militaries. Allow me to expose the LA Times for what a group of cynical, anxiety inciting jackweeds that they really are.

    I feel that in sample 1, "military liaison elements" is put in quotes as if saying "pshaw, right." Since a good amount of the LA Times readership probably doesn't know anything about the SF, they probably see this as a brush-off by the SOCOM spokesman, and will assume that "things are amiss."

    In Sample 2, it is said that the operations "started a couple years ago." Maybe the editor felt that providing an exact date would put the La Times' readers at ease a little bit, as if it would make any difference whatsoever. Saying when a military operation "began" is a little hard to pin down anyway -- when did the planning start? Was it when the guys arrive in country? When they were assigned to whatever teams? Which one? I reckon "a couple years ago" is a sufficient answer, and doesn't mean anything more than that.

    Sample 3 quotes "Situational Awareness" like it's some kind of special lingo, and then says that it's "generally synonymous with intelligence." The recent popular media definition of intelligence is that it's some autonomous, sacrosanct, anonymous creature that routinely violates human rights. By saying "SA is the same as intel," the LA Times is intentionally manipulating the meaning of a commonly used military/government term (SA) and associating it with the aforementioned evil institution of "intel". SA can be something as simple as opening up a newspaper or talking to the kids on the street. While this is a form of "intel," I don't think most Americans would consider reading the newspaper to find out traffic and weather information an "intelligence exploitation operation". The LA Times is preying upon the prejudices and ignorance of the American public in a not-so-subtle way, manipulating ignorant (and most likely opinionated) readers to incorrectly read between the lines, and I find that irritating.

    Some of you might think I'm reading into this too much, but the LA Times likes publishing shit like this. Perhaps you remember something I wrote about before in response to an LA Times article. Their position is clear; I know where they're coming from. To be honest, if those statements weren't in "quotes," I probably wouldn't have had any problem with the article. It would have been a pretty innocuous page. But there's a reason for the quotes, and I think it's pretty obvious where they're coming from.

    So in closing, I’d like say to the LA Times: Good “article.” I found it really “enlightening.” Your “editors” and “journalists” continue to overwhelm me with their “political savvy” and their ability to get to the present the “truth.”

    And that, my friends, is another little example of TUOQ.

    Anonymous Cory said...

    My absolute favorite "quoted" word journalists use is "terrorists." Brando and I have discussed it at length, the long and short of it is that if someone blows people up with a suicide bomb, they aren't "terrorists," they are terrorists.

    I think quoting one word or a phrase should be outlawed in journalism school, and if a journalist wants to use quotes they have to give the whole sentence the person said. Of course, I also think all poll statistics should be given with samping source volume (# of people questioned) and geographic polled area, but that is evidentally too much trouble for the "journalists."

    12:33 AM  
    Blogger brando said...

    Hhahah. I laughed a couple of times reading this. The read between the lines game is really fun. When I was in Minnesota some years ago, watching TV with the fam, there was an MTV news report about Mariah Carrey having a nervous breakdown or something. Very few facts were said, but they were trying to get the point across that she had tried to commit suicide, without actually saying it. I'm sure they were concerned about slander if it weren't true. Anyway, a short time later someone in my Fam said that she "Tried to kill herself". And that she heard them say so on the news we were watching.

    MTV was so successfull at the read between the lines trick, that listeners actually heard something tht wasn't said.

    I found this one on the CBS page.

    The Women Say No to War activists, who plan to be in Washington on Wednesday to meet with members of Congress, said they were denied requests to meet with Rice or other "relevant" State Department officials.

    Hey Paul, I know that you are a "hetrosexual", and that you practice good "hygene", and that your "external" genetialia are free of contagious diseases. This quote game is really fun. Your "Friend", Brando.

    12:52 AM  
    Blogger Jinxy said...


    3:49 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "Preaching" to the "choir" should be the title of your entry Mr. Paul. Unfortunately, by identifying the problem you just kicked yourself out of the loop. This is a newspaper whose target audience are the same ones that are trying to get pregnant right now cause the "baby-bump look" has replaced the "gay-cowboy look" as the new it thing in trends.
    By the way, can I move out there or should I just hang myself.The only problem with America?'s full of Americans.
    -Your favorite drunken midget.

    12:23 PM  
    Blogger Paul said...


    thats about all i have to say to that.

    12:25 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Whose the girl on your old blog, under "Adventurestan"?

    "Stay safe"

    7:16 AM  
    Blogger Travis said...

    About the "baby-bump look"- it's fantastic. I love pregnant women. There was a very hot pregnant girl who always ran on the treadmill at our gym. Mmmmmm. She has since given birth. Now she is just another skinny girl with big boobs. Boring.

    Too much thinking out loud?

    If anyone finds this above offensive, (including my wife, aka not pregnant), in that case I am just "kidding".

    10:02 AM  

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