Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin
queerbychoice

  • Mood:
  • Music:

The Importance of Good Grammar

Being a professional editor, I can never resist a story about the importance of good grammar. sammka's latest entry is an excellent example, so I have to share it with you. You see, sammka actually bothered to read the text of a South Dakota bill (apparently aimed at undermining abortion rights) carefully - while the South Dakota legislators clearly didn't. Here is the crucial sentence from the bill:
Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt to murder such person, or to harm the unborn child of such person in a manner and to a degree likely to result in the death of the unborn child, or to commit any felony upon him or her, or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is. [my emphasis; original underlining removed]
And here is sammka's response to it:
DANGLING CLAUSE ALERT. Because this is the third "or" clause in the sentence, you THINK it's supposed to be parallel to the others, but that makes no frigging sense: "Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is." WTF.

After like 20 minutes, I figured out that the final "or" clause was actually supposed to be nested into the penultimate "or" clause: "Homicide is justifiable if committed by any person while resisting any attempt . . . to commit any felony upon any dwelling house in which such person is, or to commit any felony in any dwelling house in which such person is."

Which, by the way, is WAY SCARIER than a law saying that you can use lethal force in defense of your own fetus. I can totally shoot someone who's attempting to commit ANY FELONY in any house where I am. If this is to be taken literally, if I go to someone ELSE's house in South Dakota and they try to deal drugs or commit securities fraud or whatever in front of me, I CAN KILL THEM IN COLD BLOOD.

I'm pretty sure that's not what the South Dakota legislature meant to say. They probably missed it because the sentence overall is completely unreadable! Learn to write more clearly, South Dakota! You really need to work on your comma usage.
Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

  • 9 comments