Worst Opening Sentence Ever?

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There’s good journalism and bad journalism, and then there are articles that simply bend your brain with how astoundingly far they travel from the fields of acceptable news-gathering. Tell me good readers, what comes into your mind when you read the following sentence.

“A Voodoo priest who was linked to the death of a young woman is coming to Wales to preach about his bizarre “religion”.”

That sounds horrible! Some woman-killing Voodoo priest teaching his “bizarre” faith in Wales?!?  But wait, there’s more…

“Wales on Sunday can reveal that mysterious Hector Salva – who compares voodoo to Catholicism – will be in Cardiff later this month to hold secret meetings about his faith.”

Secret meetings! Oh no! We have to… wait a second… did you say “Hector Salva”? I know that name.

“Authorities are awaiting results of a toxicology test to determine the cause and manner of Hamilton’s death, which has not been deemed suspicious. No charges have been filed, and Salva, who goes by “Houngan Hector,” said he is “100 percent confident” there was no wrongdoing on his part. Salva, soft-spoken and polite with a constant smile, said that no drugs were involved in the spiritual cleansing called the Lave Tet, but that small amounts of rum sometimes are consumed. “Maybe a sip,” he said, but he added that Hamilton had “passed on the rum.” …  “She was happy, very positive,” he said. “She seemed very fine as far as everyone knew.” What happened about 11 p.m., Salva said, is the same scenario he told dispatchers during a frantic 9-1-1 call. “She was taking a nap and we woke her up to see if she was hungry, and she was nonresponsive,” he reiterated yesterday. “We kept calling her name and she wouldn’t respond.” The other participants in the ritual could not be reached for comment. Salva declined to provide their names.”

In fact, the Wales on Sunday piece does grudgingly admit later on in the piece that New Jersey Vodou practitioner Hector Salva isn’t under suspicion for the woman’s death, and that the meetings are “secret” because the organizers are worried about “religious fanatics” (ie Christian protesters) gate-crashing the event.

“No charges are expected to be brought against Salva and police say they are not treating it as suspicious. But neighbours of Salva – who converted to being a voodoo priest in Haiti in 2003 – said there were often strange smells and foreign chanting coming from the house. Now Salva, whose followers call by his spiritual name Hougoun Hector, will be arriving in Wales to hold three clandestine gatherings in which he will talk about his religion. The location is being kept secret, as the organisers are worried religious fanatics might turn up and gatecrash.”

Well, if there weren’t any Christians looking to infiltrate and protest before, they may well want to now thanks to this article. Andrew Dagnell should be ashamed of this piece, littered as it is with half-truths, distortions, and moral judgements. Frankly, this horrible little article is an affront to good journalism. Is Wales on Sunday a gossip tabloid to allow such things to run? If Salva or Baron’s Magic (the shop sponsoring the talks) runs into trouble we’ll know who will be on our list to “thank” for it.