The PJ Tatler

Memo to the AP: 'For the First Time' Doesn't Mean 'Historic'

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Here’s the lede on the AP story about gays finally getting to march in the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade:

Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade made history Sunday as two gay and lesbian groups marched after decades of opposition that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The gay military veterans service group OutVets and gay rights group Boston Pride joined the annual celebration of military veterans and Irish heritage at the invitation of the sponsoring South Boston Allied War Veterans Council.

Leaving aside whether gays should or should not be able to march in the parade — who cares? — it’s the media’s use of the word “history” or “historic” that concerns me. First of all, we have no idea which passing events of our time will eventually “make history” — that’s up to future historians to figure out after sorting through the ruins of our civilization. Second, the world will likely little note nor long remember what happened at this year’s Boston parade, so “history” has nothing to do with it.

The point of using the word “historic,” of course, is to signify a political objective attained, in this case “gay rights.” As Mayor Marty Walsh (no relation to me) pointed out, gays have always been allowed to march, just not under a political banner. But the media has an agenda, if not a dictionary.