Cope self-corrects

Over the last several weeks, I've made three mistakes. Here. In this paper. I hate that. Absolutely hate it. Whenever I make a mistake and it gets printed, it weighs on my mind. It gets under my skin. I can't let it go. I want to go back and change it. I want to turn back time, just like Cher. It's a good thing I make so few mistakes, or I'd probably go nuts.

Fortunately, I have at my disposal a remedy. The next best thing to turning back time is issuing a "correction" that both explains there was a mistake made and presents the true situation. You've seen them. All newspapers do it. They're usually in a box off in a corner, and they are often far, far back in the paper. Comedians make jokes about how far back in the paper the corrections often are. People who are always complaining about the "mainstream media" continually wail and moan over how far away the corrections boxes are from where they think they should be.

But that's not going to be how I deal with my mistakes. I'm going to correct them right here, in my regular column. What is this ... page four? Five, maybe? Whatever, it's as close to the front page as the folks down at Boise Weekly will allow me to get. (I have a tendency to spill things, and the contributing artists who get on the front page can be awfully touchy about stuff like Dr. Pepper stains and tartar sauce drippings on their masterpieces.)

So, yes, I make a mistake now and then. But, no, you can't accuse me of trying to hide my amends back under the classified ads. Here they are, my three mistakes. And I apologize most profoundly to anyone whose life was altered irreparably by my blunders.

• Mistake No. 1: For the August 13 issue, I wrote the feature piece, "The 'Hoods of Ada County," in which six different local communities were described for their unique idiosyncrasies. As I explained in the introduction to that article, one of the Boise city neighborhoods I chose to explore was Southeast Boise. South-east Boise. You know ... that dry stretch of suburbia you only see if you're on your way to Mountain Home.

But when I got to that section of the story, I inadvertently subtitled it "Southwest Boise." South-west Boise. That's not what I meant to say, at all. Southwest Boise isn't anything like Southeast Boise, not unless you count all the white people living in subdivisions and shopping in strip malls. I don't know what I was thinking. I must have re-read that piece 20 times and not noticed the error. And we mustn't blame the BW staff for not catching it. Their only mistake was assuming I knew what I was talking about. What they couldn't know is that I have a touch of something called "directional dyslexia." You've probably never heard of it, but I've had it all my life. Whenever someone says "east," I think "west," and vice versa. It has gotten me hellaciously lost more than once. Oddly enough, I'm OK with north and south. So my suspicion is, it has something to do with "right" and "left," two other concepts I have trouble getting lef ... er, right.

Anyway, I am so, so sorry for any confusion I might have caused, or for any bruised feelings among the residents of either Southeast or Southwest Boise.

• Mistake No. 2: In the column "God Vs. Government, Part I" (the July 23 issue), I listed a group of local natterjacks whose opinions often appear on the Statesman editorial page. Identifying them all as conservatives, I named Bryan Fischer, Adam Graham, Dennis Mansfield and Dave Frazier, the founder of the Boise Guardian blog.

Putting Frazier in that company was a big mistake. It upset him enough to call my editor and complain. I don't blame him one bit. Personally, I'd rather never, ever see my name in print than see it lumped in with those of Fischer and Mansfield. I'd rather be flogged than be thought of as having anything whatsoever in common with Fischer and Mansfield. I'd rather be dipped in shit than considered a soulmate of Fischer and Mansfield. I'd rather ... ah, but I suppose I've made my point.

My mistake occurred because of two reasons. First, I don't do much blogigating, and I've only been to the Boise Guardian site a couple of times. So really, I had little idea of what Frazier stands for. Secondly and most egregiously, I had him confused with another ex-local guy I won't name but who is definitely an arch conservative. The problem is, they both have first and last names that stress the letter "a." It's another quirk in my brain. I read a medical report on it once, somewhere. The condition is called "alliterative confusion syndrome" and it's why I always get Billy Bob Thorton mixed up with Bill Bennett and Burt Bacharach.

At any rate, I called Mr. Frazier and offered to clear his good name in an interview to be conducted at some future date. He seemed pleased by that prospect. In the meantime, I ask my readers to stop thinking of him as a right-wing religious lunatic.

• Mistake No. 3: Resulting from my column of August 20 ("Red is O.C.D."), in which I reported my conversation with my old bedeviled advocate Red on his involvement in the "Open Carry" movement, several negative entries appeared in the online comment feature. They came from near and far, as happens every time I write anything about (what I affectionately call) our "gun nut" demographic.

As always, these commentors took a dim view of my dim view of gun nuts, and they attacked my opinion on many different levels. But the one criticism they all seemed to share is that I am a very poor writer, and that I prove what a horrid writer I am by recording Red's dialectical peculiarities exactly as I hear them coming from his mouth.

"Sir, your writing is close to unreadable" said one. Said another, "Mr. Cope, your writing style is terrible. If you want to get a message across, make it clear."

Hence, I am willing to concede it may have been a mistake to quote Red so precisely. In our future conversations, I may have to translate what he says to make him more easily understood, if that's at all possible.

But you know what ... now that I think about it ... I've been chronicling my arguments with Red for at least a dozen years now, and the only readers to ever complain that they couldn't follow the story are the gun nuts. So maybe what I ought to do is leave things as they are, except on those occasions when Red and I discuss gun issues, at which time I will transcribe Red's dialogue ree-lee ... ree-lee ... ree-lee ... slowwwwlee. You know ... so the gun nuts can keep up.

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