When was the first time you heard the word “redaction?” I’m not sure when I heard it the first time, but I can tell you that I’m getting sick of the word now. I’m sick of it as a noun and as a verb. I believe the verb conjugation would be: redact, redacted and have redacted.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, one definition of “redact,” as a verb, is: “to obscure or remove text from a document prior to publication or release.” Redactions would be defined as those portions, which have been removed or obscured by blacking out or some other means.
The title of this column has been redacted. The “X’s” in the title indicate that something has been removed, presumably because that portion may be sensitive or controversial. This column’s title is a statement posted on a Snow College professor’s door. I “stole” it for use here. The last word was blacked out. I’m using “X’s” for purposes of this column.
Of course it’s the “Mueller Report” which is in the news that has me thinking about the word “redaction.” The report deals with the investigation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team recently completed. The report deals with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections. (Merriam Webster reported that searches for the words “redact, redacted and redaction” increased 4,000 percent on March 29.)
The report was given to the U.S. Justice Department. Bill Barr, Attorney General, has released the report with redactions. I got on my computer and examined the 448-page report. No, I didn’t take time to read it all.
I have too many other reads on my to do list that have higher priority than that report. I have a 958-page book titled History of the World. I also have a book called Everything Imaginable, which has 512 pages.
I’ve also been thinking about reading the phone book. I figure if I can make it through those books, I’ll have gained more knowledge than reading between blacked out words, sentences and paragraphs and pages in a redacted report.
I gather that more than 12 percent of the Mueller Report is blacked out. Each “black-out” is labeled with a reason for the redaction. Some of the “black outs” are said to be classified information, some are blocked because of “personal privacy,” and some are in the realm of legal rules for grand juries, etc.
The biggest chunk of the blacked-out material is labeled “harm to ongoing matter.” This category is what has been given the most attention by critics of the redactions. Some believe that these are the areas that are potentially most embarrassing to President Trump.
The whole concept of redaction has been making quite the trip around the Internet. People who want to poke fun at the process are finding it to be an easy target. @ryanbeckwith posted on twitter:
Mom: What are you planning for Mother’s Day?
Me: XXXXX (harm to ongoing matter)
Me: Hey, not gonna make it into work today.
Boss: Okay, why is that?
Me: XXXXX (harm to ongoing matter)
Girl, are you a heavily redacted document? Because I just can’t read you.
I sometimes do my own verbal versions of redactions in certain situations. I recommend that you consider using a version of this in your own situations that require an official sounding answer when you don’t want to reveal too much. Here’s the example:
Church Leader: How are you doing on that assignment of planning the party for next month?
Me: Due to the sensitive nature of the negotiations and individuals involved, I’m unable at this time to divulge the condition of the extensive planning that may or may not be in place at this particular moment. I can neither confirm, nor deny any aspect of this delicate matter. (In other words, I completely forgot about the assignment and it falls into the category of “harm to ongoing matter”)
If I were redacting a material for The Pyramid, I can imagine a story appearing in the paper with a paragraph like this:
XXXXXXXX inside XXXXXXXXX Sanpete XXXXXXXXXXXXX is XXXXXXXX
XXXXXX a XXXXXXXX must XXXXXXXXXXX read XXXXXXXXXX every XXXXXXXXXXXXX week. XXXXXXXXXXXX Although XXXXXX XXXXXXX some XXXXXXXX XXXXXX columns XXXXXXXX are XXXXXXXXXXXX pretty XXXXXXX lame XXXXXXXX.XXXXXXXX like XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX this XXXXXXXXXXXXX one XXXXXXX.