Sunday, March 23, 2003


Writing in The Spectator, Boris Johnson has a hilarious account of the editing process at the New York Times op-ed page:

"Booris," said Tobin [the Times editor], "'we love it! Everybody loves it. But we have, uh, a few issues of political correctness that I have to go through with you." . . . I started to get a floaty, out-of-body sensation when he said that he had made a change to a sentence about donations of US overseas aid to key members of the UN Security Council. I had said something to the effect that you don't make international law by giving new squash courts to the President of Guinea. This now read "the President of Chile." Come again? I said. Qué? "Uh, Boris," said Tobin, "it's just easier in principle if we don't say anything deprecatory about a black African country, and since Guinea and Chile are both members of the UN Security Council, and since it doesn't affect your point, we would like to say Chile." . . . I began the piece with the words, "Gee, thanks, guys," and Tobin wanted those words removed. For the life of me, I couldn't see why. . . . "OK, Booris, I'll tell you what the problem is. Our problem is that 'Gee' is an abbreviation for Jesus. For a century this has been a Jewish-owned paper, and we have to be extremely sensitive about anything that might offend Christian sensibilities." . . . "Jesus H. Christ," I said, "this is insane. This is utterly insane. I really think we ought to try to get that one in . . ."

Tobin consulted with his higher-ups and Johnson got a dispensation to say "Gee." The op-ed appeared this past Sunday.

More here.

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