Friday, June 25, 2010

Editorial: Mexico's lawsuit reeks of hypocrisy

Maybe I'm confused about how this is supposed to work, but usually, if you set out a thesis, aren't you sort of obliged to back it up with something related to that thesis?

I've read it a couple of times, and I have to say today's editorial is, well, incoherent. I'll just jump over the lead graf, which reads like a transcript from an intermittent cellphone connection, and try to parse the unnamed editor's argument.

It appears that the editor is incensed that Mexico has joined the legal challenge to SB1070, in defense of the civil liberties of Mexicans, because he thinks Mexico is so bad at protecting civil liberties within Mexico. Hence the "hypocrisy" in the clunky headline.

As examples he cites Mexico's high unemployment rate and drug-related violence in the northern border towns. (Admittedly, this may well be all the editor knows about Mexico beyond its beer brands.) But neither of these has anything to do with civil rights protections, unless he thinks that Mexicans have a constitutional right to a job or an orderly smuggling market, which I tend to doubt.

Then he jumps to the Arizona boycott resolution by Chula Vista, which is pertinent to his thesis presumably because it has a Spanish name.

What the editor means to say, of course, is that he thinks Mexico should stay out of the legal battle over this legislation. There are straightforward ways of expressing that based on actual facts and cogent reasoning. He's just got tangled up in a lame attempt at snark. (Warning, editor: comedy is the hardest kind of writing. I should know, I screw it up all the time.) A better approach is to preserve the dignity of the editorial column and treat it more seriously.

For instance, you wouldn't imply to your readers that Mexico has filed an "actual lawsuit" against Arizona when in fact what's going on is that Mexico has filed a friend of the court brief in support of the existing federal suit. This is the standard way for interested parties without legal standing to legally express pertinent interests to the court. It's not scary, it doesn't cost us anything extra, and it won't alter the outcome. Calm down, 'kay? And try to spend a couple minutes on research before you decide what to write.

You might also want to consider what you would want your government to do if you heard that Mexico was about to start rounding up Americans with dodgy status in Mexico, running them through the prison system for X years and deporting them back here. If I know the Courier, you'd be calling for armed invasion. Makes an amicus curiae seem pretty mild, dunnit?

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