Dehumanising language

Dear Spurtle 

I must object in particular to the headline used for a recent front page story ('Bid to fix human problems in city centre', Issue 264). 

The piece, which discusses additional police as if they might somehow be part of the solution to homelessness locally – rather than, say, support and actual housing – also describes homeless people as 'unsightly unfortunates'. 

Although space was given for a critique from a different perspective, this dehumanising language surely has no place in my favourite local paper. 

James Mackenzie

(Montgomery Street)


Dear Mr Mackenzie

It was certainly not our intention to dehumanise rough sleepers and beggars in the city centre. We have frequently reported our own and other locals' concern at their predicament.

What the headline and article aimed to do (not clearly enough, it seems) was to concisely describe:

  • pragmatic and unsentimental reasons for BID members addressing the situation – rough sleepers and beggars are perceived to block access and discourage trade, which is problematic for local businesses
  • an important, humane element of the new initiative – trying to support individuals by fixing personal problems which cause or result from their lives on the street.

We accurately reported proposed police involvement. Additional housing provision would of course be desirable, but does not form part of the current Essential Edinburgh scheme.

Alan McIntosh