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Sunday: July 29, 2007

Illiteracy in High Places

Filed under: — site admin @ 1:00 AM UTC

Baldilocks catches the Columbia Journalism Review in a gross bit of ignorance, accusing ‘milbloggers’ of being ‘chickenhawks’. Two of her commentators pile on by pointing to grammatical illiteracies in the CJR post. There are even more, though, which should be (but is not) surprising in the flagship journal of the so-called profession of journalism.

Here is the CJR blog post, with the illiteracies boldfaced:

More Beauchamp! (sorry…)
Why do conservatives hate the troops?
By Paul McLeary Fri 27 Jul 2007 01:12 PM

This is great. The conservative blogosphere and it’s kissin’ cousin, the milblog community–who always criticize the left for not supporting the troops–is engaging in some troop hating of its own. Their target, of course, is Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp, of TNR fame, and he’s taking a beating by critics who apparently have nothing better to do than furiously Google his name all night long and troll his MySpace page.

This childish game of name-calling, mostly led by the know-nothing Michelle Malkin’s of the world–anyone remember the Jamil Hussein embarrassment–has been going on for the better part of a week. Now the Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb dug up some particularly damning evidence against the young soldier:

[quotation omitted]

How dare a college grad and engaged citizen volunteer to join the Army to fight for his country! (Which is something that most of the brave souls who inhabit the milblog community prefers to leave to others.) While there are some very legitimate questions about what Beauchamp wrote, nothing, it’s worthy of note, has been proved false yet. But that hasn’t stopped the sharp knives of a slew of bloggers from coming out. Andrew Sullivan captures the mood nicely:

[quotation omitted]

Besides various infelicities, I count six indisputable errors in three short paragraphs:

  1. In the second sentence, “it’s” should obviously be “its”.
  2. In the same sentence, “is engaging” should be “are engaging”, since there are two subjects, “blogosphere” and “cousin”.
  3. As ‘Bad Penny’ notes in Baldilock’s comments, “the know-nothing Michelle Malkin’s” should not have an apostrophe. “Malkins” is plural, not possessive.
  4. The bit between the long dashes in the second paragraph is a question and should be punctuated as such. (My software automatically turns double hyphens into long dashes, but the CJR story displays double hyphens, at least for me. I’m surprised that anyone writing for CJR doesn’t know how to make actual long dashes — like these — in HTML. It’s quite simple: just combine an ampersand, a number sign, the digits 151, and a semicolon, in that order, without any spaces. If that’s too difficult, use View-Source and Ctrl-C to copy mine.)
  5. “Now . . . Goldfarb dug up” has a problem with the tense. ‘Now he has dug up’ would work, or conceivably ‘Now he digs up’, but a simple past does not work with “now” when the “now” refers to the present.
  6. Finally, in the third paragraph, as CK MacLeod notes in Baldilock’s comments, McLeary “messed up the subject verb agreement in the dangling subordinate clause”, where the subject is “Most” so the verb should be “prefer”, not “prefers”.

So what is the Columbia Journalism Review doing publishing a blogger who can’t handle basic subject-verb agreement and the use of the apostrophe? It would be like the IEEE employing an engineer who doesn’t know how to use a calculator.

1 Comment »

  1. I prefer to make dashes the mnemonic way: – (en-dash), — (em-dash).

    And I’d be inclined to write Michelles Malkin. But that’s just me.

    Comment by Anton Sherwood — Wednesday: September 12, 2007 @ 2:20 PM UTC

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