John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, and now at

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Real or Onion?

It is not an easy matter to determine the point at which the United States of America transcended satire, but it is a simple matter to identify phenomena that should have the editors of the Onion reaching for a consolatory bottle of gin.


Item: Texans eager to forestall any possibility of the legalization of marriage or civil unions between gay people, adopted in 2005 a constitutional amendment so sloppily drafted that it appears to make all forms of marriage illegal:

This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

Language Log has a full account.

Item: You can buy T-shirts and bumper stickers proclaiming “Pray for Obama Psalm 109.8” The verse cited reads (in the Authorized Version): “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”

Some apologists are saying that it merely calls for limit to his tenure in office rather than his death. Of course, those familiar with Scripture are aware that the next verse reads: “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

See how these Christians love one another?

Item: Fox News, skewered by Jon Stewart for using wrong crowd footage on Hannity to exaggerate size of protest, now gets caught using wrong crowd footage to exaggerate response to publication of Sarah Palin’s book.

Item: A Minnesota man speaks Klingon exclusively to his son during the child’s first three years of life: “I was interested in the question of whether my son, going through his first language acquisition process, would acquire it like any human language.”

Item: Veteran editor/writer/blogger/teacher/administrator/trainer John E. McIntyre remains unemployed.

Is this a great country, or what?


  1. I don't say this enough, John. You're amazing.

    Wonderful stuff.

  2. i was hoping the klingon story would at least note whether the kid picked it up and has a rudimentary understanding of the form of the language at this stage in "its" life (strange how the story referred to the kid as an it despite knowing that it is a he).

    also, i think it's fair to say the "live long and prosper" line can pretty much be purged from any story about Star Trek at this point...

  3. just a redunancy:
    "adopted in 2005 a constitutional amendment in 2005"

  4. Given the level of spoken English in America, I'm tempted to ask if the official language here is klingon. ( What, exactly, is klingon?)

  5. The odd thing is that the kid who heard only Klingon became unemotional and rational.

  6. On the upside, as an invented language Klingon has more consistent grammar and structure than English. Not a lot of pleasantries however.

  7. Come on, now, it's clearly a joke. And, in fairness, it doesn't say Psalm 109:8-9, does it?

  8. That would be Vulcan.. Klingons are the ones who think it's always a good day to die

  9. Great great great collection of stories.