Two weeks ago I promised this piece to Alexandra, unfortunately, it got preempted by Rush’s letter and then by an inane attack on John McCain. Better late than never…so here you go honey:
Reading a Michael Medved column recently, I parsed over a sentence that said Thomas Jefferson participated in church services every week until 1866. Now I knew that was wrong because Jefferson died in 1826. (As a matter of fact, so did John Adams, on the 4th of July to be exact.)
From Medved’s column (Wednesday, October 3, 2007):
Jefferson also participated every week in Christian church services in the Capitol Building in Washington DC; until 1866, in fact, the Capitol hosted worship every Sunday and, intermittently, conducted a Sunday school.
After reviewing the sentence, of course Mr. Medved was not incorrect. For all intents and purposes, the semi-colon after Washington DC acts as a period. It separates the first thought from the second. Mr. Medved uses the semi-colon instead of the period however, because he does not want to completely disassociate Jefferson’s religious devotion and the fact that Capitol Hill worship was very much part of our heritage, at least up to 1866. The theme of his entire column, in fact, is to point out the rich and intimate heritage the United States owes to the Deity, and specifically Christian belief.
I use this example because it points out how easy it is to misconstrue and to misunderstand what people say and write. After the diabolical attacks on Rush Limbaugh recently, I thought how much easier it is to misconstrue speech (than writing), when it isn’t documented with all the commas, semi-colons, question marks, etc. which can be referenced when explaining to morons how their interpretations are wrong.
Of course it is only worse when the reader or listener is predisposed to deliberate misinterpretation because his political views differ with the writer or orator; much aggravated when the particular reader or listener lacks any integrity.
While my journey into political punditry has been purely accidental, I have always had clear and passionate political views. I never expected I would pursue a path that would lead to me enthusiastically communicating to fellow Americans conservative principles I believe are mandatory to protect the health and heritage of our country.
What started out as a website designed to showcase my company’s product has morphed into a forum where my product and my message are going to become inseparable. It is an odd realization, because most business plans do not suggest that you should offend about half of your potential clientele. That however is really inaccurate because few of the people I offend with my commentaries were ever likely to buy my product anyway.
This leaves me in the interesting position of charging all my advertising and marketing materials with political opinion that few companies would consider proper and prudent business tactic. I believe, even most gun companies would avoid such rhetoric.
Back to my point:
The main thing I have learned, over this year, through comments and responses (not just here, but on Sake Mike’s myspace page) is, there are a lot of people out there who don’t know how to read. Sure they can sound out the words, but they can’t seem to string them all together in a coherent sentence. When they do make a sentence it often doesn’t represent the meaning the writer intended (and that’s with proper commas, etc!).
I can’t tell you how many times I have read a response, and had to scratch my head because the respondent replied to some preconceived notion they manufactured in their head, or flat out attributed commentary to me that I didn’t make.
If reading and writing is fundamental, I must say, so is getting confused.
I’m not exactly sure what No Child Left Behind is suppose to do, but I hope its teaching this new batch of kids how to read, because the old batch clearly doesn’t have it.
Copyright 2007 Jim Pontillo