If you drive in New York after drinking a shot of beer you could be arrested. That’s at least according to a typo in a New York law passed earlier this year. The law sets the standard for drunk driving at 0.18 grams of alcohol, which happens to be the amount a person’s body naturally produces.
The law, which was supposed to use a 0.18 blood alcohol content as a measure, is set to go into effect this week. But voracious partygoers can take a sigh of relief as prosecutors, according to MSNBC, will not make judgment based on this mistake.
The lawmakers are not the only ones who have let the rules of spelling, grammar and, well, just doing a second read-through slip through their fingers.
Whether making laws, working for a newspaper, or even creating signs, words harness the power to create change, inspire readers or just reach out to job applicants. The pen is mightier than the sword, but only if it does its job correctly.
Now, so we do not sound like hypocrites, City on a Hill Press has made its own fair share of publishing mistakes. In the Letters to the Editor section from last week’s issue, for example, the "Remembering Jay Johnson" starts with "I would like to The phone message was hushed." Because of less-than-perfect copy-editing, Mr. Johnson was framed with a grammatical crime he did not commit.
Anyone who sends a piece to a newspaper, whether as a guest author or regular reporter, should rest assured that his or her work will be touched up, not down. Otherwise, papers can lose their credibility and capacity to act as agents of the truth. "If this paper is sloppy with its editing, could it also be sloppy with the facts?" many may wonder.
In lighter incidents, a Los Angeles Taco Bell with a sign proclaiming "Now hiring all shits" might make us laugh, but it demonstrates the importance of the proof reader. One Santa Cruz sign reading "Dog for sale. Will eat anything. Especially fond of children" may make some weary parents cautious about approaching the owner of said dog.
There’s a joke to illustrate the "harm" of printed mistakes. A panda walks into a cafe and orders a sandwich, savoring it as if it were a piquant piece of bamboo. He then whips out a shotgun, wounds the bartender and promptly exits. When he is tried in a court (as all pandas no doubt would be), he testifies that he read that a panda, under a poorly punctuated wildlife manual, "Eats, shoots and leaves." Of course, without the comma, the manual would have been expressing his dietary habits rather than establishing him as a fugitive.
The joke appeared in Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (2003) by Lynne Truss, which ironically received criticism in 2004 by Louis Menand of The New Yorker for its punctuation errors.
So anyone, as Menand demonstrates, is susceptible to bad grammar and publishing mistakes. But you don’t have to be.
If your still reading this, and see that their are not any apparent mistakes, you need too look closer next time. Starting with this paragraph.