Wednesday, April 03, 2002


The San Francisco Chronicle is having a hard time with terminology this morning. The headline of the story in question reads "Fetus found in downtown wastebasket". Then, right underneath the headline, we read "Police question S.F. building where abandoned preemie's body discovered." [Emphasis is mine]

The use of the word "preemie" is very interesting. It seems that the Chronicle doesn't know what to call the, well, "thing" that was found in the trash.

And what should we make of this paragraph?
An autopsy was being conducted by the San Francisco medical examiner's office to determine the cause of death of the fetus, which police Inspector Mike Johnson described this morning only as premature.
What is premature? The "fetus", or the "autopsy?" I presume that the writer, Henry K. Lee, was referring to the "fetus", "preemie", or, perhaps "baby?"

Obviously, all of the major style guides at the Chronicle couldn't help with the authorship of this story. If the writer were to have actually stated that the dead baby was, in fact, a baby, you can bet your life certain pro-abortion groups would come out of the woodwork to condemn the story. So we are instead treated with vague language regarding the very subject of the story, a human baby (you won�t find �baby� in the story until you read the very last word in the article).

The SFPD homicide detail is looking into the case, but they are not entirely sure that they should:
"Until the cause of death is determined, we don't know if it's a homicide or not," [Inspector Maureen] D'Amico said.
I guess it's murder if the autopsy demonstrates that the subject question was a premature baby. But what if the coroner concludes otherwise? Will this just be a case of unlawful disposal of hazardous material?

Oh what a confused world we live in.

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