As an editor, I don’t often point out apparent major lapses in copy editing at other publications, and when I have done so, it has usually been about improper pronoun usage when referring to trans people — because, honestly, some editors just don’t know the protocol when handling stories about trans people, and misgendering trans people can have serious consequences for them.
But an article about nudism on Dante’s beach in Italy has red flags furiously waving from the opening paragraph, crying out for an editor to attach a “Please take another run at this” note and send it back to the writer. The commentary in the Deccan Chronicle in India by Nicholas Farrell leads with this:
“Carla, my Italian wife, has a small house in a little town on the Adriatic near Ravenna called Lido di Dante, right next to one of the last unspoilt beaches in Italy. But we cannot go to this spectacular beach because even though it is una spiaggia libera (open to all and free) and therefore di tutti (everyone’s) it is infested with nudists and their related sub-species: guardoni (voyeurs), scambisti (wife-swappers), group-sex freaks, transsexuals, bisexuals — plus several other creatures yet to be classified by scientists.”
Say what? How did that paragraph get by the editors? It is so blatantly insulting to so many people, it wouldn’t surprise me if the vast majority of readers never got beyond it. In other words, the writer doesn’t help his case for what might — or might not — be a genuine problem.
So, what exactly is wrong with the paragraph? Well, apart from smacking of bigotry, the writer never explains how he can tell that some people on the beach are bisexuals or transsexuals or wife swappers or explain the relevance, like just what is wrong with being a bisexual or a transsexual or even a wife swapper? Don’t all of those people have a right to use the beach, too? Apparently not, I suppose. Only Bible-thumping clothed heterosexual families need apply?
Oh, and let’s not forget that he is stereotyping nudists as an “infestation” with a related “sub-species.”
Sure, as an editor, I can tell he is pretty annoyed by the hordes of naked bodies on his beach. He even says in the next paragraph that he and his wife ” find the sight of other people’s naked bodies in a public place frankly obscene and disturbingly insane.” But as an editor, I would have told him to make his case without insulting and degrading so many people, unless the idea really was to discriminate against and marginalize nudists, the LGBT community and people who believe in open relationships, among others. If that was the writer’s intent — and I doubt it was — I would have spiked the article. He — and the paper — could have made his case without marginalizing anyone.
Just sayin . . .