WWW Open Letters

Friday, November 11, 2005

What do child smugglers look like?

Dear Ms. Borden,

I read with interest your article on the Smyrna woman involved in child smuggling. It was particularly intrigued by your first sentence, and wonder, what exactly a child smuggler looks like. I assume "Goforth didn't look much like a child smuggler" was written without malicious intent. However such phrasing implies that there are people who look like child smugglers (people who presumably do not have blue eyes, among other things) and reinforces stereotypes against such people. I hope that you will reconsider the use of that phrase. Thank you for your otherwise excellent article.


Karama Neal


Blogger Karama said...

Language is important.

November 11, 2005  
Blogger Karama said...

Here's the opening of the article:

"With her sad blue eyes, shapeless flowered dress and shuffling walk, 52-year-old Virginia Arlene Goforth didn't look much like a child smuggler and passport cheat when she walked into U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash's courtroom Thursday.

But that's what prosecutors accused the Smyrna matron of doing for more than a year --- using the names of her grandchild and her friends' children to obtain American passports for Central American children, and then flying to El Salvador and Honduras to bring the children back to their parents for a fee.

"I received pictures of children," Goforth whispered in court as she wiped her eyes with a borrowed tissue. "I applied for passports. I brought them here."

Goforth pleaded guilty to two counts of immigrant smuggling and one count of conspiracy in a case in which she and others were accused of sneaking seven children into the United States and into the waiting arms of their parents before the scheme was discovered. Goforth's son, William Donald Barnette, 30, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy in the case."

November 13, 2005  

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