Grammar Wars: Government Control?

One of most off-the-wall of the many conspiracy theories by Jared Loughner, the apparently severely mentally  guy who killed and wounded all those people in Arizona, was a notion that grammer is a government effort at mind control.

Are they grammar police part of the government trying to control us? No, but that's not going to stop a few people from thinking that

I would have thought he was the only person to think that way, but according to New York Times columnist Clyde Haberman, that just ain’t so.

Notice how I structured the previous sentence. It isn’t correct grammar. I no rite rite. But see? The government grammar police are not taking me out back and putting me before the firing squad.

Nevertheless there are people out there, as Haberman notes, who are convinced proper grammar is a plot to control us. Granted, these conspiracy theorists are not murderous like that Arizona guy. But if the government were going to control our lives, wouldn’t you think they would use something more powerful than grammar to do it?

After all, people have violated rules of grammer for ages. Just ask e.e. cummings.

Maybe the most prominent voice in the grammar-as-government conspiracy world is David Wynn Miller, of Wisconsin. The Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald just wrote about him. It’s hard to follow Miller’s theories, but it sounds like he’s English is a fiction so laws don’t apply.

David Wynn Miller says grammar is a form of mind or government control. Say it ain’t so, David!

The Morning Herald said he has misled some criminal defendents and basically has made a mess of a variety of court cases.

In one Australian court case, The Sydney paper quoted Miller as saying: 

‘Every word that starts in the English language with a vowel, a, e, i, o and u, and followed by two consonants is a word that means no contract … All paper is a vessel in sea of space …”

Alrighty, then.

Some have said that Miller inspired Loughner toward his shooting spree. Loughner probably got some of his “ideas” from Miller, but it’s a stretch to say he had much of anything to do with the  Arizona violence.

The Southern Poverty Law Foundation has written about him, too, but they can’t seem to decide whether he’s a scam artist, mentally ill or both.

Miller must be a tough nut to crack if the SPLF can’t figure him out. The organization usually   has an excellent handle on the racists, wackos, hate groups, nuts they track.

Of course, the problem with grammar as a type of control is the English language is constantly changing, so the rules keep changing. So how would the government even keep track of the rules since nobody else can?

Think about it. Junk used to mean trash. Now it’s a guy’s private parts. A Web was once something a spider spun, but now you’re reading this on the Web. And there’s no spiders here.

My suggestion is conspiracy theorists get better conspiracy theories.  But you know? I’m never against a good fun Revolution. So go ahead and feel free violate any grammar rule you want. I’ll do the same from time to time.

After all, some of the best writing comes when people ignore convention. I guess this means that like all wacko conspiracies, a rebellion against grammar has a nugget of good in it amid all the weirdness.

 

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