Thursday, March 8, 2012

Gruntled again

Yesterday's little dust-up concerning belly dancers seemed to be well in hand. I felt it was just a minor error by the reporter, who probably misread the copious notes he had collected surrounding the series of articles he has been writing about human trafficking. The manner in which the Daily Nebraskan had responded to it, however, fired me up, and I was like a dog with a bone to chew.

This occurred yesterday when it came to my attention that the DN had corrected the (non) quote in its online edition, and had also run a correction in the print edition.  I happened to see the print edition, and my formerly red hair (red former hair?) began to flame. This was no correction at all.  Rather, it was an apology by the DN for printing my (non) quote!  Instead of simply stating that Casady had been misquoted, the DN actually did the reverse: confirmed that they had quoted me, and apologized for printing what I (had not) said:

"In a quote in a March 6 Daily Nebraskan article, Lincoln public safety officer Tom Casady listed 'belly dancer' 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 never asked for a correction in the first place, but this was worse. The editors of the Daily Nebraskan chould have just called me or sent me an email to say, "Sorry we misquoted you, and really sorry our attempt to correct matters actually compounded the error."

It took quite an effort on my part to get this to happen, but I finally received an email reply from the managing editor and a return phone call from the editor-in-chief at the end of the day.  The appropriate apology was politely delivered, and this was published in this morning's print edition:

"A story on human trafficking, which ran in the Daily Nebraskan on march 6, misquoted Lincoln Public Safety Director Tom Casady. In the story, he is quoted including “belly dancers” in a list of sex-related businesses that escort services may be fronts for during his testimony to the state Legislature’s Judiciary Committee. According to the committee hearing transcript, the phrase in the quote should instead be “lap dances.” Belly dancing is a form of Middle Eastern dance taught and practiced around the world. The Daily Nebraskan regrets the error."

That's more like it. Consider me gruntled. Among the flood of emails I received from belly dancers was this one last night, from someone who is mad that I am not sufficiently mad about a student journalist's one word error. The subject line was "Still annoyed...":

"Dear Mr. Casady,

I am going to keep this brief, but in the scheme of things the misquote was a big deal, a very big deal.  If you know anything about the history of Raqs Sharqi/Belly dance in the U.S, then you will understand the reason so many dancers were 'peeved'. The dance was seen as lewd, disgusting, and sexual on its arrival and not much has changed I see; it was call the hootchy coochy dance at one point.  Still today, there are social stigmas that women who want to partake in this art face from their families, friends, and colleagues right here in the USA, not to mention what the dancers endure in Egypt and other parts of the Middle East.  Scholar Andrea Deacon wrote, ' western society takes various distancing positions toward belly dance: ignoring, joking about , diminishing'. And that what you did, diminished the mistake as trivial as if we were all the same or unimportant. So it is still quite offensive that you took the misquote so lightly until it involved you."


Steve said...

Call me ignorant, but what I've seen of belly dancing doesn't appear to be much different from what I've seen of lap dancing or pole dancing. If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and walks like a duck, it's a duck.

Anonymous said...

Steve...your ignorant!

ARRRRG!!!! said...

I didn't get a chance to see the correction in the DN. I needed it for something else.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Steve...there's no pole involved in belly dancing!

Steve said...

My point is that they all seem oriented toward making seductive, erotic motions (presumably to arouse male onlookers, or at least bring them pleasure). I know some kinds of dances are supposed to have spiritual or other meanings to the movements; however, I found no such referrences to that in my limited research on belly dancing. Perhaps someone can enlighten us as to the "purpose" or "meaning" of belly dancing if there is more to it than meets the eye.

Tom Casady said...


Maybe this will help. If you were to Google "belly dancing classes YWCA" you'd get almost a million hits. I don't think you'd find too many lap dancing or pole dancing classes at the Y.

Steve said...


Been there, read that (at least skimmed over it). Didn't find anything mentioned as to a purpose or meaning of the dance, only that it was performed at various functions such as weddings. Although I don't know much about it, I understand the Hula as done in Hawaii has various meanings associated with particular movements. Although the Hula is similar in that it accentuates the female body and is enjoyed by men watching, it could be argued that it has some meaning other than simply being erotic or sensual. I'm curious if belly dancing can make the same claim. I'm not saying it can't; I'm just not aware of any such claims. I guess what I'm getting at is that I'm curious why so many would be offended by your misquote if belly dancing has no other purpose aside from the obvious. It seems a bit to me like women who dress provocatively and then are upset when they draw unwanted attention from males.

Herb said...

Actually, Director, if you Google "pole dancing, YMCA" you get about 183,000 hits...

Tom Casady said...


Hah! I'm afraid to follow any of those links!

Nancie Kay Shuman said...

Steve -

Belly dance, Raqs Sharki,Turkish Oriental is practiced and danced around the world by children, men and women as an expression of joy and life. Yes, it does utilized parts of the body which in the West are associated with sex, but sexual stimulation is not the motivation.

As a performance art, Belly dance is performed from the heart as an expression of emotion and bringing the music to life.

I have been dancing for 45 years. I learned Ballet, Jazz and Modern in Lincoln and performed all of these at UNL and other venues there. It was not until I started belly dancing 11 years ago that I was able to truly, authentically connect with the emotional aspect of dance. I have included my URL for my belly dance website. If you would like to watch some real belly dancing, feel free to follow the links to my youtube channel. You might be surprised.

Steve said...


Nice, informative answer. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

In the first apology, the DN writer ended their sentence with a preposition.

If I were the editor, that would be the main thing that I would be mad at.

Just something they need to be aware of.

Nancie Kay Shuman said...


I just noticed that I gave the wrong link to my website. The dancer whose link is included is lovely, but not me. I have given my correct website here.

My apologies. I have spent the last two days in court for Jury selection. Brain and fingers not working together.

Steve said...

I heard belly dancing is good for hand-eye coordination!

Anonymous said...

Belly dancing. Hula dancing. Both are part of a culture and should be appreciated as an art form.

The thing that disturbs me in this whole dustoff is the lack of integrity shown by the Daily Nebraskan staff. This type of shoddy journalism and reporting has turned what used to be a noble profession into a cadre of liars and manipulators. The Law profession and other once proud professions have suffered similar fates.

Gun Nut