We interrupt our regular Police Dispatch reports to bring you a special item: a chat about this column's very nature.
A recent column item, "Shitzophrenia" (Feb. 10), upset some readers who felt that the headline and the item itself made fun of a person who was possibly mentally ill.
As for the headline ... our readers had a reason to be upset. It was indeed tacky, ill-advised and insensitive. We sincerely apologize for it. However, as for the item itself, we do not.
The point of this column is to hold up a mirror to a side of Tucson you might not otherwise see—the interesting and often revealing absurdities that help give our town its edge, but often stay under the radar (unless you're a cop).
While exposing that side, we hope we make you laugh, or at least smile, or perhaps bewilderedly shake your head. (In other rare cases, we don't mean to be funny at all; we're just trying to let you know about something that's noteworthy.)
Unfortunately, many encounters with law enforcement revolve around some unpleasant maladies or activities, from binge-drinking to drug-addiction to violence to mental illness. While we take care to present situations discerningly and be as sensitive as possible, the stark unpleasantness of reality often leaks through. Or bursts through in a prominent display.
But the stark unpleasantness of reality is what drives the most affecting humor (or absurdity, or whatever you want to call what we present here). When people are forced to address something scary or weird about the human predicament they often laugh. And let's face it: These episodes of drunkenness, of domestic disquiet, of criminal conduct—these are part of Tucson.
We take great care to present this coverage in an entertaining yet sensitive way. Hell, under the right (read: wrong) circumstances, any one of us could appear in Police Dispatch. In an effort to be sensitive, the Tucson Weekly purposefully omits the names of those unlucky subjects appearing here. This helps us write about humans without naming individuals, and about people's problem behavior without calling out the name of a specific person.
Of course, we at the Weekly—like our Dispatch subjects—are only human. We do make mistakes (like the aforementioned headline), and sometimes, to some people, this column crosses the line with its language or its content. It's inevitable that once in a while, an individual or a segment of the population will be hurt or offended. Well, it's not our intent to offend. It's our intent—and our job—to tell Tucson's stories, including the stories of encounters with law enforcement.
We'll keep doing what we do, as sensitively as possible, without naming names.