Saturday, May 7, 2011

Brett Slattery's Slippery Slope: We're Turning into Them

"There are states that track your speed on toll roads. You enter the toll road at point A. You arrive 60 miles later at Point B. The speed limit is 60 mph. So it will take you one legal hour to get to point B. If you arrive sooner, you get a ticket on your calculated speed." -- Brett Slattery.

"We have yet to find any verified accounts of municipalities (in any state) automatically issuing traffic citations based on transit times recorded by electronic toll collection systems." Snopes

We know who Snopes is, but who is Brett Slattery?

He's a real estate agent. He's also Sun Coast Media Group's occasional columnist. This morning, Slattery steps out of his field of expertise to offer an opinion. To be fair, he's not an actual journalist or a reporter so expectations of objectivity or sourcing can be put aside. And, after all, it's the Charlotte Sun headline that get the ball rolling: "Red light cameras -- what's next?"

The lame "what's next" is designed to inflame, not inform. Most readers will recognize from the outset that the copy desk kids left their professionalism in their lockers back at page-designing school. But it's Slattery's 7th graf that delivers the Kool-Aid.

At first, he attempts imitating a reporter by appearing to attribute his fourth or fifth assertion: "Newspapers have reported ..." It's three paragraphs down, by which time readers who had been giggling since the end of the first graf are now emitting small guffaws at the delicious irony. Folks like Slattery -- we're grouping him with various types who see conspiracy everywhere and threats from government around the corner -- routinely accuse newspapers of being unreliable. So it's choice for an old reporter to see in black and white this sudden reliance on what he reads in "newspapers." The fact that Slattery grossly mischaracterizes what "newspapers" have reported is another post for another day. Let's just say an objective and balanced report would not serve his purpose. Which we're coming to.

Broker Slattery's purpose is to stir his brew of logical and journalistic failures and mix with an unctuous dose of xenophobic, ethnic, and near-racial slurs and stereotypes in order to lubricate his slippery slope fantasy. Old Word Wolf fans will locate most of the poison quite easily for themselves. We'll just close by promising a Silver Bark Bark Award to anyone who locates one actual fact in Slattery's ink that might qualify as well-informed opinion.

Brett Slattery's world view regarding highway safety improvement: "Our government gets richer ... camera makers get really rich companies see a big boost in premiums ..."

Regarding preventing planes from being used as weapons of mass destruction: "... If Homeland Security can authorize scraggly strangers to grope your wife and kids, then gaining access to cell phone data is a piece of cake."

Regarding proximate causes: "China is light years ahead of us on this. So are most Middle Eastern countries. ... with red-light cameras now popping up in our own country, we have demonstrated a willingness to be a little more like them."


  1. The editors and writers compile the headlines -- not the copy desk.

  2. Interesting. Since forever, the copy desk at most newspapers has traditionally been responsible for headlines. It's only at this late stage in the page make-up and editing process that column widths are known finally, that the desk editors have made decisions about "play," and therefore size and weight of heds, for instance. If the Sun is putting this task back on writers, it's strange because how would they know whether to write a two-column hed or a three col hed, or a three-deck one col hed? That's the copy desk's "late night" task, long after the 5 o'clockers have punched out.