Friday, 30 April 2010

Possible versus desirable

In "Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should", there's this BBC article. I'm not going to comment on the article itself, though it has problems, but on the headline.

Not the article headline, "Sudan's date-gin brewers thrive despite Sharia" but the even shorter summary headline that is used in links to it from elsewhere. "Getting lashed".

You can see why it's there, and since headline writers are often paid for the skill at fitting puns into extremely small places, it's not surprising. On the other hand, it is disappointing that a quite serious article on brewing of araqi against the local laws is felt an appropriate place to put a silly headline based on "lashed" being both UK slang for "intoxicated" and the penalty for distilling alcohol being a beating.

From a context-free point of view, it's a very good headline, combining the two major themes of the article into just two words. Not considering the context, and not realising that just because something can be done doesn't mean it should be done is a pretty common expression of privilege, though.