Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tradition?: A Brain Teaser

Reading one of today's lead stories in New York Times today, I was struck by its odd wording. Let's see if I can recreate the experience for you. Read the following, and stop and think for a few seconds what you might expect to come next:

Dominated by liberals, Mexico City’s legislature is expected to legalize abortion in a few weeks. The bill would make this city one of the largest entities in Latin America to break with a long tradition of . . .

The article is by James C. Mckinley, Jr.
who is reporting on the likely passage
of a law allowing abortions in Mexico City.
Here's how that sentence finishes:

. . . women resorting to illegal clinics and midwives to end unwanted pregnancies.

Tradition? Now, one might argue that its most basic definition, stripped of all shades of historical and cultural meaning, the word might apply here. But when I think of Latin American "traditions," this is not something I would include in the list. It's like saying something along the lines of: "the crime rate in America dropped to its lowest in 50 years, breaking with a long tradition of home invasions and drive-by shootings."

The word "tradition" will soon become meaningless if we start applying it so broadly.

read the whole article here.


Blogger Susan Rose, CSJP said...

weird - I had a similar thought when I read the article in the NYT myself.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...

Well, Susan, you know what they say:

Great minds . . . ;)

9:26 PM  

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