On Sunday we noted the death of rap star Ol’ Dirty Bastard in “The death of Mr. Bastard.” In writing about Mr. Bastard, we faithfully followed the New York Times stylebook prescribing the use of “Mr.” within stories before all men’s last names. Thus, for example, according to the Times, “Mr. Hitler” led the Nazi regime throughout World War II.
Tomorrow in its remarkably uncritical “Critic’s Notebook,” the New York Times runs Kelefah Sanneh’s retrospective on the career of Mr. Bastard: “For O.D.B., fun was too much or not at all.” It is simply not apparent from the story why Mr. Bastard is worthy of the attention devoted to him by the Times. Most striking to me, however, is the lengths to which Sanneh goes to avoid applying the Times’ last-name convention to Mr. Bastard.
UPDATE: Reader Reginald White writes:
Compare the life of Mr. Bastard (click here) with the life of Lance Cpl. McLeese, a friend of a friend (click here), or with the life of my friend David Bradley (click here). All three died Saturday. If one uses the amount of ink spilled in the NY Times as the measure of worth, I guess instead of fighting the good fight, Lance Cpl. McLeese and David should have turned love into vice (siring, but not fathering, 13 kids), turned song into obscenity, and turned enough money to free anyone from the cares of everyday life into prison.
I don’t expect the NY Times to write anything about two fundamentally decent guys in flyover country. I don’t expect them to write about guys who used their talents rather than indulged them. Actually, I don’t expect much from the NY Times. But if the New York Times editorial board ever seriously asks why such a disconnect exists between red states and blue states, I would expect the board to compare these lives and ask which ones exemplify the values of the red states and which one is lionized by the elites in the blue states.