Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

As a loyal reader of the San Pedro Sun (and its predecessor the Coconut Wireless) and as a regular advertiser I would like to express my growing concern as to the lack of tact and taste in recent issues.

I am a SCUBA diver and so are many of my friends and family. During this time of year a very popular subject in our conversations concern the wonders of coral spawning. This is an event that stunned the world just a few short years ago and a fantastic subject for research in the years to come. I could hardly believe my eyes when I read the absolutely tasteless article in your issue dated August 21st, 1998. I admit that there are some fascinating facts and some very informative observations and comments from people I admire such as Mito Paz of Green Reef and James Azueta of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve but WHY did you degrade the story with words and phrases such as "orgy", "porn movie", "erotic", "sex starved", and "kinky"?

It seems that I will not be able to encourage my children to take an interest in this newspaper for quite some years. Or can you suggest a way in which I can explain the above quoted words and phrases to my young children?

I urge you to consider this letter seriously and think of the long term effects to your business and your respectability in this community if you continue to publish trash.

Yours sincerely,
Amanda Syme

Editors Note: It was certainly not our intention to offend anyone with such a tame issue as spawning coral. We saw nothing "degrading," "trashy" or "absolutely tasteless" about the use of the words "orgy," "porn movie," "erotic," "sex starved," and "kinky".

Mrs. Syme is right, young children and some adults may not understand the meaning of several words in that article. Some may even misunderstand the connotation of certain words in the article; for the benefit of those people let's dissect the article.

The headline, Orgy on the Reef - Sex craved coral, was used by marine biologists, scientists and research divers around the world to described the coral spawning that took place during this year. Sorry, it was not an original headline, we borrowed it from the scientists. The definition of the word orgy is: 1) wild or wanton revelry 2) any immoderate or excessive indulgence in something; an orgy of reading 3) the secret rites in honor of certain ancient Greek and Roman deities, as Dionysus, marked by ecstatic or frenzied songs and dances.

Let's see, porn movie: meaning pornographic movie. The sentence in which those words were used immediately followed the headline and reads as follows: No! this is not the title of a porn movie, but a rather colorful description of one the most remarkable underwater occurrences known to man: coral spawning. The words "pornographic movie" were used to inform readers that the headline had nothing to do with pornography. By the way, the dictionary definition of pornography is: 1) the expression or suggestion of the obscene in speaking, writing, etc; licentious art or literature 2) Originally, a description of prostitutes and of prostitution as related to public hygiene.

Next word: erotic. This word was used in the following sentence: Once, or in some cases twice a year, on a very erotic evening, certain coral species spawn. The meaning of the word erotic is: 1) of or pertaining to passionate love; amorous, amatory. 2) A theory of science or love. 3) an amatory poem.

Mrs. Syme included "sex starved" in her list of supposedly inappropriate words. Sex means: 1) either of two divisions, male or female, by which organisms are distinguished with reference to the reproductive functions 2) males or females collectively 3) the character of being male or female 4) the activity or phenomena of life concerned with sexual desire or reproduction. The meaning of starve: 1) to die or perish from lack of food 2) to suffer from extreme hunger 3) to suffer from lack or need.

And lastly, kinky; the meaning of the base word kink is: 1) an abrupt bend, twist, loop or angle, as in a wire or rope 2) a tightly twisted curl as in hair 3) a mental quirk or prejudice 4) an original, novel or clever way of doing something 5) a fashion fad 6) a hindrance, obstruction, or difficulty 7) a crick; cramp.

All these words pertain to the behavior of spawning coral. When analyzed and placed back in context, these words are clearly not trashy, tactless or degrading. They are simply descriptive words. We hope that this exercise was helpful to readers. If people do not want to see dead bodies and bleeding, injured people then they do not watch CNN or TLC's Operation. The exact same goes for newsprint. Mrs. Syme has the right to censor whatever information she feels is inappropriate for her children to be exposed to. It is her parenting morals.

Thank you for taking the time to share your ideas and concerns with us. We welcome feed back from the community we serve. Censorship is a hard thing to deal with. The job of a newspaper is to entertain, educate, inform, analyze and interpret information. The Sun hopes that our presentation of information lives up to these standards.

Letter to the Editor

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