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Just a few, random thoughts...
stupid media bias 
1st-Jul-2007 08:45 am
my planet
The ACLU sued both the Delaware State Police and members of the Santorum campaign for an incident where a group of women were ejected (possibly arrested) for the crime of being intelligent (read: disagreeing with Santorum's views) in a bookstore prior to a Santorum booksigning. The headline reads: ACLU settles suit over book-signing incident. I did a quick Google - from the FreeOnline dictionary definition of "settle" (yes, there are better online dictionaries, it came up first and it's good enough for these purposes):
8.a. To make compensation for (a claim).
8.b. To pay (a debt).
9. To conclude (a dispute, for example) by a final decision.
10. To decide (a lawsuit) by mutual agreement of the involved parties without court action.

So, to settle a suit either means that you lost the argument and agreed to pay, or that there was a neutral outcome. Clearly, the ACLU did not do particularly well here, right? That's what the headline says. Unless you read the article, which explains that the Delaware State Police are paying all the ACLU's legal fees and instituting a training program on free speech rights while the campaign workers are writing formal apologies and paying damages. Headline should have read: "Delaware State Police and Santorum campaign workers settle." If there wasn't enough space for that, how about: "ACLU wins dispute over book-signing incident?" Exactly the same number of letters and spaces as the headline they went with.

Journalistic ethics anyone? Standards? Training in basic English language usage?

Does anyone know if the ACLU actually gives out membership cards? I'm thinking it may be time to get me one of those.
1st-Jul-2007 07:08 pm (UTC)
Stupid people abound--in the mass media as elsewhere.

I think most people assume definition 10 is being used in terms of cases like this one--that the case was settled between the parties without going to court. If the agreement was reached without a trial, then that's correct here. But to say the ACLU settled (instead of ACLU and Delaware Police) is odd. They both settled the case by coming to an agreement. One party cannot reach an agreement alone.

I don't actually assume that saying "X settled..." means "X paid" or "X lost." But I think a better headline might be "ACLU receives settlement in suit..."
1st-Jul-2007 10:05 pm (UTC)
I'm actually quite liking ahistoricality's choice: "ACLU wins apology, training from proto-fascists"!

Everywhere else that I've seen the expression "X has settled", it means that X agreed to pay up. That seems to be the standard usage when only one of the parties is mentioned. You are correct, of course, that if it said "X and Y have settled" it would mean that they both came to an agreement. Either way, it's sloppy journalism.
1st-Jul-2007 08:27 pm (UTC)
Headline writing is one of the weakest links in the journalistic chain, I'm afraid: neither reporters nor senior editors will take responsibility for them, because they are usually handled by layout editors. (I'm not sure whether that qualifies in this case, online and all).

Yeah, it's a bad headline. I'd go for "ACLU wins apology, training from proto-fascists" but I don't think it'd fly.
1st-Jul-2007 10:05 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
1st-Jul-2007 10:10 pm (UTC)
"By and large" is the key for me. I find myself in avid support of nearly everything they stand for, and then they take on some case that makes my skin crawl. I understand that the law needs to be based on universal principles, I really do, but there are some people whose cases I just can't see myself supporting. Which is why I keep putting off joining.
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