Is Accurate Transcription Always Fair?
In today’s NYTimes, Eric Konigsberg documents the closing of The Roxy, a major gay dance club in Manhattan. It’s apparently an ancient cultural icon: the “warhorse” of a club has been operating since 1991. (What does that make ME, exactly? A fossil?) The most interesting aspect of the article to me was Konigsberg’s uber-accurate depiction of one patron’s language. He writes:
Oh, my God, I had my coming-out party here 11 years ago,” said Terrence Cairy, a reed-thin, 35-year-old jewelry designer from Melville, on Long Island. “I brought my friends and broke the news. Some friends I lost, some friends I kept.” But, he said, “This place stayed. Oh, my God, I used to come here every weekend. One friend, I brought him here three years ago to come out. It’s a safe place to come out, and oh, my God, it has the best D.J.’s in the city.
Oh, my God! He is totally, like, trashing this guy! Many litigators can point to similar examples from court reporters who chose to provide a blow-by-blow transcription of proceedings, including “uhh”, “umm”, and every other sound emitted by an attorney. And somehow court reporters seem to target such precise accounts at those lawyers they like least. (In the case of court transcription, I suspect that lawyers reap what they sow. Treat court reporters right, and you’ll rarely suffer from such brutal honesty.)
All of which is a reminder that completeness is not always fairness. It depends on the context. And in the context of today’s Times, I found the precision, like, totally rude.