Tulsa World truncates Good Samaritan

samaritansThe headline on a Tulsa World story -- "Samaritan slain during a robbery" -- caught the eye of a reader of ours named Charles. While Samaritan implies goodwill, charity and medical aid (e.g., Samaritan's Purse, Good Samaritan laws and the British Army armored ambulance FV104 Samaritan), its more important use is in defining an ethnic group. By any reasonable measure of popular usage in the United States, the words Good Samaritan bring to mind the non-ethnic meaning, but that's not what the Tulsa World did. For whatever reason, space constraints probably most likely, the word Good was left off the headline:

A Tulsan who tried to help someone who claimed to have run out of gas was killed Tuesday after he pulled out his money, police and the victim's father said.

Steffan Jerome Schlemme, 27, was shot outside his mother's house at 565 S. Zurich Ave. and died later at St. John Medical Center, Tulsa police officer Leland Ashley said.

Robbery was the apparent motive in the shooting, and Schlemme appears to have been chosen at random by the shooter, Ashley said.

Schlemme was in his mother's backyard when a man walked up to him and said his car had run out of gas, Ashley said.

Schlemme told the man he would check the garage to see whether he could find any, said his father, David Schlemme, who was helping him work on a weed trimmer they had bought for Steffan Schlemme's mother.

"He liked to help people, so he said he would go check," David Schlemme said.

No doubt this good-hearted man was acting in the spirit of Jesus' parable, in which a man goes more than the extra mile to help an injured man found beaten on the side of the road. The story also fits within the legal definition of the word, which defines laws that protect people who choose to help the injured or sick.

The word Samaritan obviously has multiple connotations in the Western world. But that does not mean the original and most historically accurate form of the word should be ignored just because the group is small and isn't that familiar in the West.

This is what Charles had to say about the headline through our Submit a Story link:

The headline immediately caught my attention because of the fact that there are less than a thousand living Samaritans today. Unfortunately, the article went on to tell the story of a man who was shot in a robbery attempt while offering help to a man who claimed to have run out of gas.

I was seriously disappointed in the World for not catching that in editing. The least they could have done was say "Good Samaritan" (with the quotes).

I agree with Charles that at the minimum the World editors should have included a couple of quotes around Samaritan, if not juggling things around to fit Good Samaritan into the headline. It's just more accurate that way.

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