Otherwise, we might be under siege by “grammar vigilantes" like Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson, founders of the Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL). Their mission: "stamp out as many typos as we can find, in public signage and other venues where innocent eyes may be befouled by vile stains on the delicate fabric of our language."
Sounds like two self-proclaimed Zorros wielding red pens instead of blades... or a pair of obsessive-compulsives with too much time on their hands.
Alas, their crusade for proper English ended in U.S. District Court in Flagstaff, Ariz., with a guilty plea for vandalizing a sign at the Desert View Watchtower in Grand Canyon National Park. As the Arizona Republic reports:
Deck's diary account of the Grand Canyon incident was submitted as evidence in court. It says the two men climbed Desert View Watchtower while on holiday from their typo-enforcement duties "and discovered a hand-rendered sign inside that, I regret to report, had a few errors. I know today was supposed to be my day off from typo-hunting, but if I may be permitted to quote that most revered of android law enforcers, Inspector Gadget, 'Always on duty!' I can't shut it off. . . . Will we never be free from the shackles of apostrophic misunderstanding, even in a place surrounded by natural beauty?"
After correcting a misplaced apostrophe and comma, Deck reported, he was aghast to discover what he described as a made-up word: "emense."
"I was reluctant to disfigure the sign any further, so we had to let the other typo stand. Still, I think I shall be haunted by that perversity."
The punishment issued by the Feds:
In addition to being banned from national parks for a year, the defendants, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to vandalize government property, are banned from modifying any public signs. They also must pay $3,035 to repair the Grand Canyon sign.
A more fitting sentence would have been indentured servitude as high school English teachers.
— Michael Harris, Chief Analyst, Cable Digital News