Married to Those Scare Quotes


As regular readers of The Washington Times know, the paper puts the word marriage in scare quotes when referring to gay marriage. This rule presumably is based on the premise that homosexual marriage is not true marriage, which by definition involves one man and one woman. (Hence the biblical patriarch Jacob was only "married" to his various wives; ditto the Muslim prophet Muhammad and the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith.) The One True Marriage Rule explains why the headline over a story in today's Times, "Senate Halts Marriage Amendment," does not include scare quotes, while the headline over a sidebar, "Same-Sex 'Marriage' Vote," does.

But I'm not sure the paper's editors have thought through all the implications of their marriage ("marriage"?) position. Today's story, for instance, mentions state courts "poised to strike down traditional marriage." The phrase "traditional marriage," of course, is redundant, since marriage is defined by tradition (as long as you don't go back too far) and traditional by definition. And how should a Times copyeditor handle other misuses of marriage, such as "the marriage of sight and sound," "a marriage of convenience between Syria and Hezbollah," or "Anna Nicole Smith's marriage to J. Howard Marshall"?