Saturday, April 28, 2012

There Are No Highlights in this Case

I've been following the Amy Senser hit-and-run case pretty closely.

It's kind of the inverse of the Koua Fong Lee case: Instead of an Asian immigrant whose car killed innocent U.S. citizens, we have an innocent Asian immigrant, Anousone Phanthavong, killed by a U.S. citizen in her car.

Lee's accident took place in daytime, with his family in the car; Senser's was at night, when she was alone. She left the scene of the accident, while Lee did not. And Senser is the wife of a local celebrity/media figure to boot instead of an immigrant from one of the Twin Cities' most outsider communities.

So of course the case raises all sorts of issues of disparity. Senser has the best defense money can buy; in Lee's initial case, that clearly wasn't true. Senser will be perceived as sympathetic by the jury because she's familiar to them -- a white woman, a soccer mom, in effect, whose tears well up when her teenaged daughters are called to testify. Lee, on the other hand, remained stoic throughout his trial. He just didn't seem to be sorry.

I can't get into the whole story, which has been covered extensively (although I would recommend reading this commentary piece from the Star Tribune, written by Phanthavong's boss, Anna Prasomphol Fieser, to get a sense of how the coverage was in the months before the trial).

What I wanted to say is a minor point. Each day for the past week or so the Strib has reported on Senser's trial, and each day they have included a "highlights" box.

Am I being overly sensitive when I say that highlights seems like the wrong word? Highlight has an unquestionably positive connotation.

Maybe the copy editors could try:
  • Key moments Friday
  • Friday summary
  • What happened Friday
Any of those would be much better. Almost anything other than highlights, please.

This is a trial about a tragic death, not a reality TV show or a sporting event.

1 comment:

Pete Hautman said...

That illustration reminds me of Dorf, the Tim Conway character.