Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Teaching Punctuation of the Age of Trump

This morning I awoke to news of a devastating earthquake in Mexico City, Hurricane Maria clobbering islands in the Caribbean, our president (no capital ‘p’ for him) threatening nuclear annihilation on North Korea, Republicans wanting to take away affordable health insurance from tens of millions of people, more protests of a police shooting in St. Louis, wildfires raging throughout the western part of the country, Texas and Gulf States dealing with flood damage from Hurricane Irma, and my job this morning is to go teach writing. You know, the proper usage of semi-colons, what a grammatic sentence is, principles of rhetoric and persuasion, critical reading/writing/thinking, the Oxford comma, syntactic structures, what a gerund phrase is, how to write a good simile or metaphor, subject/verb agreement, and on and on......infinitive phrases, participial phrases, absolute phrases. ***************************
How important is it really that one use an Oxford comma, when our president (no capital ‘p’ for him) lies about virtually everything, everyday, all the time, and suffers no consequence? One hint regarding discernment: if the president (no capital ‘p’ for him) calls something ‘fake news’, you can bet it’s true. How important is it really that a semi-colon be properly placed while rivers are being polluted, air dirtied, chemicals dumped? How important is it to be literate, when our president (no capital ‘p’ for him) shuns literacy and bluster-blathers at the level of a seventh grade bully? You get the idea by now, I’m sure. *************************
Ultimately, I think the answer is ‘very’. Standards should be upheld, communication should be clear, profound and uplifting ideas should be expressed well, and rhetoric should advance knowledge, reflect truth, motivate our higher selves, and not obfuscate, corrupt, mislead, or inflict hurt on innocents.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.


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