August 17th, 2010

typing for victory!

Ya Fryed

I love language. Manipulating it is one of the only things I'm any good at, and I make a substantial part of my living at it: as a freelance writer, words are my meat, and as an editor/production guy, I have to make sure words, images and design requirements blend harmoniously.

But I am not one of these so-called 'word nerds'/'grammar geeks' who think that, because they've restricted their understanding of language to what it says in the AP Style Book and some half-remembered 'rules' from college composition, they were put on this earth to go around correcting other peoples' language.

Now, this is not to say these people aren't useful. I know why these 'rules' and 'standards' exist, and any writer needs to make himself understood. An editor has to have these skills, and a good editor always makes a good writer better. (A good editor can even make a bad writer better, but a bad editor can make a good writer worse. It's all so complicated.) And I'm certainly not denigrating the profession of proofreader; goodness knows with my failing memory, sausage-like fingers, and damaging intake of drugs and alcohol, I need one. I'm a bit annoyed at people who think they'd be good editors because they are good proofreaders, because those are two very distinct jobs, but they are also both very worthy ones.

I'm really just focusing my annoyance today at one sort of person. This sort of person believes that they are qualified to be a proofreader, an editor, or even a writer because they are good at spotting grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. That doesn't make you an editor, folks; it makes you someone who's good at puzzles. This sort of person, who is almost always a pedantic little shit, also believes that the ability to spot completely harmless typos makes them the intellectual superior of the people who actually make their living writing, for whom language is a living thing, the very thing that makes us human, and not just a collection of rules, which, by applying in a proper way, allows one to 'win'. These are often the same people who think that deliberately violating a rule of language is a 'mistake', and not a deliberate choice, as if there were no such thing as a figure of speech, a linguistic scheme, or a rhetorical technique. They are the people who tell you how your expression would have 'worked better', who misuse the word 'pretentious', who live by Big Leo's Trollin' Tip #3: "If someone makes a spelling or typographical error, everything else about their opinion is rendered valueless." They are people who, despite their professed love of language, wield it like a nun wields a ruler: as an instrument of punishment against those who don't conform, regardless of context or circumstance.

No one reading this needs to be reminded that Stephen Fry is a genius, but a while back, he wrote a rather brilliant blog post in which he discussed, quite perceptively, the multifarious nature of language. He made a lot of great observations (including a stirring defense against those who claim, absurdly, that the French post-structuralists 'destroyed language'), but one of the best bits is towards the end where he goes off on these self-appointed guardians of the integrity of the language. (Naturally, this triggered an invasion of his comments section by the very pedants he was criticizing.)

I'll put it under the cut, but, while this isn't directed at anyone in particular, if you happen to see yourself in there, don't be that guy.

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god bless the internet

Troll Talk

By the way, in case you missed them when I posted them elsewhere, here are Big Leo's Trolling Tips, to help you be a more and better troll. I am just trying to help you get the most out of all those hours you folks spend on the internet trying to get strangers to be mad at you. (Placed here for long-term storage, to keep it from being lost in the Short Attention Span Theatre that is Twitter.)

Tip 1. Post irony-impervious stuff like "no one cares what you think" or "I can't believe you waste time doing this".

Tip 2: Threaten violence constantly. Nothing is more super-awesome than an internet tough guy.

Tip 3: If someone makes a spelling or typographical error, everything else about their opinion is rendered valueless.

Tip 4: Be a fox. Knowing a little bit about lots of things makes you smarter than someone who knows lots about one thing.

Tip 5: Your lack of patience and focus is an asset. If something on the internet isn't catering to you, it's wrong.

Tip 6: It goes without saying that art is subjective, but that doesn't mean someone who hates your favorite band isn't an idiot.

Tip 7: When faced with a 10-point response to your argument, focus on the one point that is easiest to refute. Winner=you!

Tip 8: Calling someone an 'elitist' or an 'intellectual' is an insult for which there is no comeback, unless it's you.

Tip 9: Always assume your target forgot to mention something, not that they didn't think it was worth mentioning.

Tip 10: Best thing to say: "I can't believe they PAY you to do this." I can't believe it either! Awesome, isn't it?

Tip 11: React first, then read. If the article had anything important to say, they would have put it in the title.

Tip 12: Rigor is an overrated quality. If you have to read something closely to figure it out, it wasn't worth writing.

I: If you think it, say it. An unspoken thought is poison to the soul.

II: Your first instinct is always the right one.

III: If something was worthwhile, you'd already know about it.

IV: Technically correct is the best kind of correct.

V: Thoughtful argument is for faggots. "Idiocracy" wasn't a satire; it was a blueprint.

VI: Everything is about politics, always.

VII: You don't have to know anything about it to hate it.

VIII: Ignorance and pedantry are both excellent weapons; there's no reason to choose just one.

IX: Happiness = reaction-time. Nine hours of trolling for two angry responses is time well spent.

X: Never apologize, even when you're wrong. ESPECIALLY when you're wrong.
nah I'm just fuckin with you

Yes, I'm still beating this issue into the ground

On April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln -- thought by many to be the greatest president in the history of the United States -- was brutally murdered by the actor John Wilkes Booth. Booth blew the back of Lincoln's head open with a .44 pistol and escaped with the aid of his co-conspirators.

That's right: while many people would have you believe that Booth and his gang were a bunch of fanatical outliers, they were in fact a highly organized conspiracy of Confederates and Confederate sympathizers. They acted in tandem to commit a wave of highly organized attacks (the same day, one of them attacked and nearly killed Secretary of State William Seward; assassinations of General Ulysses Grant and Vice-President Andrew Johnson were also planned but were interrupted at the last minute). Eventually, seven other people were arrested and convicted of being part of the conspiracy. Booth was killed while attempting escape, and four of his co-conspirators were hanged. The conspirators, far from being fringe loons, were part of the mainstream as regards their views of Lincoln; when the President's murder was reported, many of these so-called "Southerners" were supportive of the killing, and public celebration in the streets was reported in many Southern cities. Many people actually blamed the North for the tragedy, claiming that its foreign policy had caused understandable resentment and anger amongst Southerners.

But this coddling, terror-appeasing, blame-the-victim mentality on behalf of the South isn't the worst thing: it's that so-called liberals have, ever since, shown our country's weakness by constantly caving in to the demands of these "Southerners", who brazenly flaunt their 'rights' under the U.S. Constitution in order to mock the hundred thousand American dead at their hands. These "Southerners" claim that they have the right to move into our neighborhoods, build schools and houses of worship, and impose their foreign values on us, all the time citing the "freedom" granted to them by America -- even though they declared war on America in order to protect their own right to deny freedom to blacks! And if that's not insult enough, they flaunt their greatest crime:

The purple pin indicates Ford's Theater, "Ground Zero" where this terrorist conspiracy murdered our greatest president; the red pins indicate Episcopalian Churches, breeding grounds for the so-called "religion" of the monster John Wilkes Booth! And it gets worse:

Pin A is the headquarters of the Confederate Memorial Association, a so-called "charity" that exists to glorify the crazed madmen who fought to destroy the United States of America! And Pin B is the Robert E. Lee Memorial, an actual TRIBUTE to the general who led their greatest attacks on our great country! Both mere blocks from Ground Zero! What's more, both the "Sons of the Confederacy" and the "Daughters of the Confederacy", shadowy organizations that exist to glorify the terrorist army and indoctrinate "Southern" children into believing in the rightness of their cause, maintain chapters in Washington, DC!

Won't you join me in generating a ridiculous amount of outrage over this and demanding (at best) the expulsion of all so-called "Southerners" from the nation's capital, or at the very least, demanding the removal of all Episcopalian and Southern Baptist churches and pro-Confederate organizations from the area? It's a simple matter of right and wrong.