One of those gentle violent guys

The New York Times apparently perpetrated one of the most oxymoronic lines one could dream up in its initial reporting on the guy who killed three people and injured nine more at Planned Parenthood. Gawker has the record.

After what was likely a heated debate around the editorial desk, The New York Times decided to rework a story that described Robert Lewis Dear, the man who killed three people and wounded nine others at a Planned Parenthood clinic on Friday, as “gentle.”

A story published on Saturday about Dear’s background used that adjective, defined as “[a person of] a mild in temperament or behavior; kind or tender” to describe Dear, following that adjective with details about how he harassed women for years.

Jack Mirkinson tweeted a snapshot:

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Acquaintances described the guy as a gentle loner who occasionally unleashed violent acts toward neighbors and women he knew. Some “gentle.” (Also, weren’t some of the neighbors women? Was he surrounded exclusively by men?)

To be fair, you can see how they screwed that up. The acquaintances they talked to probably said he seemed like a gentle loner and yet he had violent outbursts. Violent people can seem gentle at intervals; few people are all one thing all the time. But still. You can see how they screwed it up, but it’s more difficult to see how they failed to catch it before publication.

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