Wednesday, January 05, 2005

If we'd known she was out...

My friend J.'s letter to the LA Times:

In Patrick Moore's commentary piece "Susan Sontag and a Case of Curious Silence," he says ..."the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times reported Sontag's death on their front pages, with more stories inside. Yet neither paper mentioned Sontag's relationships with Leibovitz and other women." I wondered then, and I wonder again now, why is that? How about an answer from the editor? Who made the decision to omit her many relationships with women (already in the public spotlight), and why?

The response:
Your letter was forwarded to the office of the readers' representative. Thank you for writing.

The editor overseeing obits got back to me to say this: He believed when the obit was written that Sontag had not commented publicly on her sexuality, so he chose not to include anything beyond the recognition of her marriage and divorce, all legal public record, in the obituary. He notes now that, had he known of her comments in the New Yorker article (cited by Patrick Moore yesterday), he would have included a line in the section in the obituary saying that while she did not marry again in her lifetime, she had relationships with both women and men.

Thanks for raising this point.

Jamie Gold
Readers' Representative
While I do commend the Times for actually writing back with more than a "thanks for sharing" email, it does sort of underscore what the gay marriage hubbub is about doesn't it? It's that "legal public record" thing.

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