Pronounced re-branding

What’s up with sudden re-pronunciations in the news? I just heard a prosecutor listing the charges against Jack Abramoff. She read his name as though she had not heard it a thousand times in the news, begining with an “ah” instead of the familiar American diphthong “ay”. Abracadabra, not Abraham.
Playing the bad guyOne person’s tomayto to another’s tomahto wouldn’t seem to mean anything. But isn’t there something fishy about re-branding Abramoff as a two-bit hood?

When you or I go to court, we don’t need anyone to tell us to dress to make a good impression. Here it seemed more important to play the boogeyman, rather than the smiling lobbyist who many might recognize in pictures posing with politicians.

For three years the press has been talking about enemy combatant detainee Jose Padilla. His name was always accorded Hispanic heritage. That’s Jose with the “j” pronounced as an “h” like San Jose, and Padilla with the “illa” at the end as in quesadilla.

Suddenly newscasters are adjusting themselves to a new pronunciation. Now it’s Padilla like the pickle. Like a Texan would say armadillo, like vanilla.

Padeeya was the guy being held for three years without the government deciding what charges to bring, without due justice, without constitutional protections normally accorded American citizens. They’ve been trying to move his case into the civil courts, but have been thwarted by those courts. Now with the collusion of the Supreme Court, the administration has been able to effect this move. Hence his name in the news. His new name.

The media is telling us that this correction is being offered by Padilla’s own lawyers. Interesting. Why aren’t they asking that his first name be anglicized as well? Why not Josey, like Outlaw Josey Wales instead of No Way Jose?

CNN claims that Padilla’s lawyers call them to complain each time CNN mispronounce his name. That would be interesting indeed. A man cut off from contact with the outside world, from most of his rights as a citizen, even from adequate contact with his lawyers, is granted access to the television stories about him? And Padilla’s lawyers, is that what they’re doing with their time?

This instruction has probably come down from the same people who dictate that embedded reporters refer to certain Iraqi detainees as “Dr. Germ,” “Mrs. Anthrax” or “Chemical Ali,” appelations concocted entirely for American ears.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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