Patterico's Pontifications



Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:52 pm

SCALIA AND GRAMMAR: A while back I ranted about how Justice Scalia’s views were (once again) being wildly misrepresented by an out-of-control news media intent on taking his quotes out of context. In particular, I was upset that news outlets stated that Scalia had said he had “nothing against homosexuals” when what he really said was: “Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means. . . “

Today, grammar pedant William Safire writes about how Scalia might have avoided this particular misquotation by correctly using the possessive before a participle. (The idiots intent on clipping his quote would have had to clip off, not only a few words, but also an apostrophe from the final word.) Safire even interviews Scalia regarding his grammatical decisionmaking in penning his dissent. It’s all here, for those who like this sort of thing.

The Dog Trainer‘s New “Air Quote” Policy

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 6:09 pm

The other day, the Los Angeles Dog Trainer (aka L.A. Times) ran an op-ed by one Bill Arkin, about that general named Boykin who has dared voice his religious beliefs. In that op-ed, Arkin wrote:

Boykin is also in a senior Pentagon policymaking position, and it’s a serious mistake to allow a man who believes in a Christian “jihad” to hold such a job.

Incredible. This general used the word “jihad” to describe our war on terrorism? Well, actually, no. He didn’t. Hugh Hewitt interviewed Arkin the other day, and describes the interview here. Hewitt asked Arkin about the “jihad” line, and says:

Arkin admits in my interview that Boykin never used the word jihad, even though it appears in quotes in his article. Arkin states it is a characterization. Right. In quotes.

James Lileks imagines the conversation he would have with his editor if he did this:

But he didn’t say that.

Exactly? Well, he meant it, though.

He meant it.

Yes, and that’s why I put it in quotes.

Quotes. Which are usually reserved for, you know, quotes.

Right, but I used them here to set the word apart. You know, show that it was a paraphrase.

By using the means we use to indicate direct transcriptions.

Well, sometimes, sure. But I meant them more as, you know, those air quotes you do with your fingers?

To my knowledge, the good folks at the Dog Trainer have not issued a correction of this non-quotation placed within quotation marks. Apparently they needed to save valuable space for this important correction, which ran this morning:

Critter-resistant container — The Web site listed for the Bearikade Expedition Mark II that ran in the Outfitter column of the Outdoors section Tuesday was incorrect. The Web site is, with a hyphen.

You got that? With a hyphen! It is apparent that the pursuit of accuracy is Job Number One at the Dog Trainer!

You know, I think this whole schtick of placing “characterizations” inside quotation marks is the wave of the future. It really offers a tremendous freedom of expression. I think that today I will adopt the new Dog Trainer “air quotes” standard, exemplified in this critique of Arkin’s column:

I just finished Bill Arkin’s column on General Boykin, and I think it’s a little over the top. I was taken aback that Arkin thinks that “anyone who expresses a belief in Christianity” is “necessarily a wild-eyed zealot” who “should not even be permitted to walk the streets.” And I don’t think that Bush’s decision to appoint Boykin to a high military post was “a more evil act than any perpetrated by Hitler, Stalin, or Mao.” Clearly, Arkin needs to choose his words more carefully and avoid hyperbolic exaggeration.

Yup, now that I am using the Dog Trainer‘s standards as my benchmark for journalistic accuracy, there’s no limit to the fun I can have.

REST EASY: Undercover agents have

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:25 am

REST EASY: Undercover agents have smuggled “knives, a bomb, and a gun” past screeners at Logan Airport. But don’t worry. The federal security director at Logan says Logan is “no better or worse” than other airports around the country. Whew! That’s a relief.

UPDATE: And today, bags were found on two Southwest airplanes, each containing box cutters, modeling clay formed to look like a plastic explosive, and bleach (a corrosive liquid not permitted on airplanes). Read about it here. Southwest says that each bag also had a note that “indicated the items were intended to challenge Transportation Security Administration checkpoint security procedures.”

According to the story, the FBI has caught the perpetrator, who said he was demonstrating gaps in security. Intensified security checks were ordered with no disruptions to service expected. Meanwhile, the guy who left the bags will likely face federal charges, as “proceedings were expected Monday in federal court in Baltimore.” Patterico welcomes feedback from readers on the issue of what should happen to this guy.

I say: force him to pay any restitution to anyone inconvenienced, give him a misdemeanor with a chance of expungement — and then give him a ticker-tape parade. Or at least an investigative job at a news agency. I think he has performed a public service. What in God’s name is the government thinking? Why do we keep reading about successful attempts to smuggle dangerous weapons (or facsimiles thereof) onto airplanes? When is the federal government finally going to get serious about airline security?

A round of applause for the soon-to-be “convicted criminal.”

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