Qualified qualification

January 15th, 2012
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“Mohawk woman poised to become ‘first’ aboriginal saint” -

Canadian Press story reported on CTV website

This recent headline described the prospective canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, the 17th century Mohawk active in the community of Kahnawake, near Montreal.  Interesting story.

Unfortunately, it appears that the Canadian Press or perhaps the CTV headline scribe, couldn’t help putting qualifying quotes around the word “first”. Besides being another example of what MrK observes as the media’s inability to report anything straight-up, it’s just odd.

Why the quotes on “first”? Does that mean there’s some other aboriginal who was really first? The story makes no allusion to this. Or did they really want to question the the whole concept of sainthood, but didn’t dare to put the quotes around “saint” for fear of offending someone?

In an equally odd follow-up, CTV ran a story about how the nationality of Tekakwitha was under dispute – she moved between what is now Canada and the U.S. No quotes around “first” in that story though.

Perhaps it’s just another example of the fact that the media has no real idea how to cover religion stories. What could simply have been a “feel-good” item has to be first qualified, then shrouded in controversy.  Too bad.

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By John Weissenberger