« Now hear this | Main | All the answers »

Unfair to Cadillacs

Another irate reader, this one complaining about the phrase "the hulking sport utility vehicle":

"Nicole Fuller's story about 'Click it (and) ticket' contains the above phrase.

"This is an ordinary example of what people call 'media bias'. The description is personal and it is discriminatory.

"Never mind what you think of any car. In many instances, such 'information' is gratuitously added. It amounts to "background" propoganda."

So it is not enough that we are instruments of the East Coast liberal media establishment at war with capitalism, religion, justice and ordinary decent good sense. Now we are also accused of motor vehicle prejudice.

The vehicle in question, should you not have read the story, was a Cadillac Escalade, a vehicle that cannot fairly be described as diminutive, or, for that matter, graceful.

It seems to me that hulking amounts to fair comment. Anyone who chooses to own and operate a gas-guzzling behemoth, or wear fur, or smoke tobacco should be aware that such choices and preferences, though legal, do not excite universal admiration.

Posted by John McIntyre at 8:58 AM | | Comments (5)


'Motor vehicle prejudice'. Haha. That's great. I think I'm going to steal that (with your permission of course).

I agree with your last statement, though. It's hard for some people to wrap their mind around the concept that what they do isn't enjoyed by everyone else just because they do it. It baffles me that anyone could be offended by someone stating that an unnecessarily massive vehicle like the Escalade is just that.

Would this same person be offended if their equally massive house were described as a huge mansion? Perhaps. People get offended by the strangest things.

I'm not even sure it has anything to do with "fair comment." There are "compact" SUVs, "midsize" SUVs and "crossover" SUVs as well as the hulking kind, so the distinction is actually useful for those readers who don't know an Escalade from a Sportage. You could say small-medium-large, but that gets kind of boring. English is a rich language; why not spend some of its wide variety of words?
(My guess is that the touchy reader wouldn't have batted an eye at the word "tiny" applied to the subcompact Honda Fit.)

You mentioned using "tiny" to describe a subcompact: Would "runty" be a fair word to use? How about "puny" or "shrimpy?" Mightn't some subcompact drivers take offense at those terms?

Actually, it sounds like the complainer's perception was pretty much on target.

As in, "Drivers of hulking Escalades and runty Aveos pay the same price for gas -- the difference comes in the final cost for a fill-up."?
Works for me.
What's sauce for the goose...

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
Baltimore Sun Facebook page

Most Recent Comments
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Stay connected