Friday Mailbag: The Public Editor

If you are being watched, leave now!


January 30, 2017

Readers also noticed a story that is a repeated issue for The Times and one which the public editor has written about previously.

Once again The New York Times appears not to understand the difference between an adult having consensual sex with an adult and an adult raping a child. Today’s paper includes this sentence: “Mr. Polanski was convicted on charges of having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977; he fled the United States for Europe before sentencing the next year.” As I have so often written to the Times, the phrase “have sex with” connotes mutuality and consent. This phrase is legally inapplicable to an adult having sexual contact with a minor because minors are legally incapable of consent. It is particularly odious to use this phrase in connection with Polanski who drugged this 13-year old child with champagne and a Quaalude and raped her orally, vaginally, and anally. Surely the Times could at least use the phrase “sexually abusing a child.”

Lynn Hecht Schafran, New York

The public editor’s take: I’m with Schafran on this one, for the reasons she states.