Thursday, April 21, 2011

NPR: Breathing Life Into Bland, Blunt Birth Certificates

Note that Jake Halpern makes the typical journalistic mistake of calling Obama's "CertificaTION of Live Birth" a "CertificATE of Live Birth". As the two images below demonstrate, there is a huge difference between the two documents.  Halpern's sloppy mistake is representative of the way the media confuses the public. Is this error accidental or deliberate? Other than this mistake, Halpern has a surprisingly interesting take on the subject.

Breathing Life Into Bland, Blunt Birth Certificates
By Jake Halpern
National Public Radio - All Things Considered
April 19, 2011

Jake Halpern teaches journalism at Yale University.

President Obama's birth certificate, the one that his campaign released in 2008, is one seriously boring document. It tells us almost nothing about his actual birth — other than the bare-bones details. I assumed all certificates were like this until one day, a few weeks ago, when my dad discovered his father's birth certificate — which was issued in Poland, 107 years ago.

The document is packed with juicy details — I won't go so far as to say it's a swashbuckling tale of adventure — but, in terms of story development, it's way better than Obama's. It mentions, for example, the name of the presiding midwife — a woman named Chaje Rader from the town of Hutar. It also provides the name of the guy who performed the circumcision — Mr. Benzion Klein — and it even indicates that Klein was the town's butcher. This makes sense. I mean, you wouldn't want the town's blacksmith doing the deed — would you? The document notes that Grandpa was an illegitimate child. There is even a part of the document offering the name of the godparents who witness the birth.

Click these images to enlarge. Note the title differences, as well as the missing elements described in the above article. Obama's Certification of Live Birth is a blank slate, just like the man.  Apropos.

A Hawaiin CertificATE of Live Birth
Obama's CertificaTION of Live Birth

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