Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Belly dancers peeved

Never thought I'd be penning a blog post title like that.  What an interesting evening.  I took off a little early yesterday, and loaded four of the five grandkids up for a little excursion to grandma and grandpa's house.  While playing with the munchkins, my iPhone was beeping incessantly. Around 5:00 PM, I started receiving a string of emails from...annoyed belly dancers? They are still coming in this morning.

Apparently the source of the annoyance is this article in the University of Nebraska student newspaper, the Daily Nebraskan.  The comments on the DN's website went nuts, and the tech-savvy had no trouble finding my email address.  Last December, I testified before a Nebraska legislative committee hearing on the topic of human trafficking.  I am quoted in the article saying that escort services are "fronts for erotic dancers, belly dancers, erotic massages and prostitution."  Methinks the reporter mistook his notes, and replaced something like "lap dancers" with "belly dancers," because I don't believe I said such a thing. If I did, it was an incredible gaffe, because I certainly realize belly dancing is not associated with the sex trade in any way.

I have patiently replied to each email, explaining that this must be a misquote.  Here's an example, my response to a belly dancer from Texas, who delivered quite a lecture to me:

This is a misquote, I believe. Perhaps the student reporter misread notes concerning my testimony that escort services are a front for activities like erotic massage, lap dancing, exotic dancing and prostitution.  I would never, ever put belly dancing in such a list, which would be akin to including something like figure skating or gymnastics.  You can take belly dancing lessons at the Y, for goodness sake! Legislative committee hearings are streamed live, recorded, covered by the Nebraska press, and I normally submit written testimony.  I have testified at two legislative hearings in the past few months concerning the sex trade and the issue of human trafficking. Both were widely covered in the news, as a Google search will reveal, and no one has quoted me as associating belly dancing with the sex trade prior to this article in the University of Nebraska's student newspaper.  Had I actually said something like this, I believe it would have raised some eyebrows among the senators and the gallery, and I am pretty sure it would have been picked up by the rest of the media. The reporter may have made a mistake in either his note taking or writing. 
Tom
Hopefully Apple's big event today will eclipse this story, and my inbox will settle down.

It is a good series of articles, despite this slight dust-up.  The Daily Nebraskan's coverage of the issue of human trafficking over the past year has been excellent.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Or maybe you had a "senior moment," Mr. Director. I took my car into the shop a couple weeks ago, and explained to the service manager that it was making a squealing noise. "From the engine compartment?", he asked, probably thinking it was a belt. "No," I stammered, "You know, those things that make the wheels stop."

It must be stress. Maybe I need a brake.

Brian Fitzgerald said...

"Thank you for your letter. No I did not say... LOOK! NEW IPAD!"...

Brian Fitzgerald said...

"This is a misquote, I believe. Perhaps... LOOK! NEW IPAD!"

Tom Casady said...

6:20,

Don't I know it! Maybe so. At any rate. I hope you got you breaks fixed.

Tom Casady said...

Well, what do you know: a transcript of the Judiciary Committee's hearing on Legislative Resolution 243 from December 5, 2011 is available online. You'll find the relevant excerpt from my testimony about a third of the way down on page 38:

"Escort services are fronts for exotic dancers, lap dances, erotic massages, and prostitution, and that's all they are."

ARRRRG!!!! said...

This one looks a little peeved.

Tom Casady said...

Now I'm getting mildly annoyed myself. The Daily Nebraskan ran a correction on page 2 of today's print edition. The correction, however, apologizes for printing the quotation, not for misquoting me in the first place. The transcript from the legislative committee hearing makes it quite clear that I never referred to belly dancers, and that the quotation printed in the DN article replaced "lap dances" with "belly dancers." Here's the quasi-retraction that is in today's DN:

"In a quote in a March 6 Daily Nebraskan article, Lincoln public safety officer Tom Casady listed “belly dancers” among a list of sex related businesses escort services may be fronts for. the Daily Nebraskan did not intend to associate belly dancing with sexual transactions by running the quote and apologizes for any confusion. belly dancing is a form of middle eastern dance taught and practiced throughout the world. The Daily Nebraskan regrets this error."

I wasn't upset at the misquote, because errors happen, and in the scheme of things this is minor. I didn't ask for any kind of retraction or correction, nor did I contact the DN. It just wasn't that big a deal. I did try (twice) to post my own response comments on the DN website, in an effort to correct the error before additional commentators got themselves worked up, but for some reason neither last night's attempt nor this mornings succeeded. Mind you, this is much ado about nothing, but still....

Mahsati said...

As one of the dancers who commented on the original article, I thank you for clarifying. We are spreading the word that it was a misquote and many of us are really impressed with how you have handled this issue. Sadly, this is something that happens often in news reports about our dance form, so we are a little sensitive on the subject.

Again, thank you for your understanding of our concerns and I hope you have a wonderful week.

Steve said...

Do you suppose you, or one of your officers made an enemy down there recently?

Ten to one the DN reporter goes on to work at LJS, maybe the editor, too.

Anonymous said...

It is too bad we don't have any Clark Kents in the news business now.

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

Hate when people are misquoted. In this case, yes, the DN did a POOR job at attempting to correct the information. Pathetic journalism.

Anonymous said...

Ten to one the DN reporter goes on to work at LJS, maybe the editor, too.

I see that I'm not the only one with similarly low opinions of both rags.