We know about the history and we know about the logic. In his usual impeccable way, Bill Whittle now explains about the grammar:
Donna Brazile authored a tweet in which she was obviously trying to condemn the President’s critics for daring to suggest that it might be a bad thing when the leader of the once-free world, when faced with a fast metastasizing death cult, announces that there’s in-fighting in the government and he has no strategy for dealing with the issue:
I am just outraged that Obama hasn’t pasted together an #ISIS “strategy” to satisfy the craven political ravings of hillbillies yet.
— Shoq (@Shoq) September 1, 2014
John Hinderaker latched onto the fact that the tweet shows manifest disdain for Americans and, quite possibly, “it also reflects, I think, the frustration that Democrats feel at having to defend the indefensible Obama administration.
Meanwhile, I noticed something different, which is that the Vice Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee seems to have only a passing familiarity with “English as she is spoke.” What in the world kind of syntax is Brazile using when she ends a sentence with the word “yet”? It makes “hillbillies yet” sound like some peculiar noun, known only to the rarefied inner circles at the DNC.
It’s always fun to watch liberal heads explode. This happens when their political fantasies smash head-on into reality. Samuel L. Jackson is struggling through a cognitive dissonance moment as he struggles to avoid the inevitable conclusion that Obama is an empty suit who offers nothing but a blank slate on which liberals can inscribe their dreams.
What ostensibly outraged Jackson is the way the President, who managed to attend expensive prep schools and Ivy League schools without giving any indication that he actually learned anything, likes to talk as if he’s from the streets. Jackson went ballistic in a Playboy Magazine interview. To him, Obama’s sloppy speech is unforgivable in a role model.
Incidentally, Jackson’s rant is R-rated because of obscenities, and is riddled with slang expressions such as “ain’t”. It doesn’t seem to occur to the 64-year-old actor that he too might be a role model, and that clean speech is as important as grammatical speech when it comes to raising up-and-coming generations.
Jackson’s obsession with having people other than himself speak respectably and respectfully happened when he was a child, and an insurance salesman named “Mr. Venable” came weekly to the door to collect his grandmother’s insurance premiums. When Venable referred to Jackson’s grandmother as “Pearl,” the youthful Jackson launched into an obscenity-filled tirade against the man for daring to call his aged grandmother by her first name.
Jackson boasts that, on Twitter, he loves to be a grammar policeman (language alert):
I’ll be reading scripts and the screenwriter mistakes “your” for “you’re.” On Twitter someone will write, “Your an idiot,” and I’ll go, “No, you’re an idiot,” and all my Twitterphiles will go, “Hey, Sam Jackson, he’s the grammar police.” I’ll take that. Somebody needs to be. I mean, we have newscasters who don’t even know how to conjugate verbs, something Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow never had problems with. How the fuck did we become a society where mediocrity is acceptable?
With that opening, interviewer Stephen Rebello can’t resist asking Jackson about Obama’s speech habits – specifically the way he “consciously drop[s] gs off the ends of words to sound like Joe Average.” It turns out that Jackson finds appalling the fact that a Hawaii-raised, Ivy League-educated president constantly tries to prove his black street creds. (Again, language alert.)
First of all, we know it ain’t because of his blackness, so I say stop trying to “relate.” Be a leader. Be fucking presidential. Look, I grew up in a society where I could say “It ain’t” or “What it be” to my friends. But when I’m out presenting myself to the world as me, who graduated from college, who had family who cared about me, who has a well-read background, I fucking conjugate.
It’s nice to know that, even in the midst of angry, profane diatribes, Jackson hangs on to conjugating. We’re sure young people everywhere are ignoring the swear words and picking up the grammar tips.
It’s all okay, though, that Jackson is that upset about Obama’s grammar. This is a form of what the psychiatrists would call displacement – that is, Jackson cannot acknowledge the real source of his anger, so he’s directing it to something fairly inconsequential.
Given enough time, Jackson might finally own up that his explosive anger about the letter “g” and subject-verb relationships masks the realization that President Obama may well go down as the worst president ever in American history, the man who destroyed America’s economy, broke down her borders, and paved the way for decades of alternately simmering and explosive existential wars between Muslims and the west all over the world. With that reality, no wonder Jackson is hiding behind grammar.
On Facebook the other day, one of my friends offered her services as an English tutor — and included a grammatical error in her offer. Admittedly, it was an error that involved a usage that has been changing over time, but I still expect an English tutor to avoid this particular mistake. Even if her usage is correct colloquially, it doesn’t pass muster in grammar books.
Don Quixote, to whom I told this story, said that I’m fighting a rearguard battle here. I certainly agree with him that language changes (otherwise we’d all sound Shakespearean), but the fact remains that there are rules of grammar, and that good writers and speakers know these rules. Nor are these rules merely useless holdovers from older, more formal times. Many developed to advance one specific goal: clarity. If you assemble the parts of your sentence in accordance with strict grammatical rules, you need not fear that it will be open to misinterpretation. The writer (and speaker) who controls his dangling or misplaced modifiers, random pronouns, subject verb disagreements, etc., is the writer who actually gets his message across.
Immediately after having delivered my ringing endorsement for good grammar, I turned on the radio and got proof that I’m right. I heard a snippet of Michelle Obama’s CBS interview, the one in which she rebutted the charge that she’s an angry black woman. Through the miracles of mangled grammar, though, even as she claimed that the charge is untrue, Michelle explicitly stated that Barack Obama himself has “announced” that she is an angry black woman:
… I guess it’s more interesting to imagine this conflicted situation here and a strong woman and– you know? But that’s been an image that people have tried to paint of me since the day Barack announced, that I’m some angry black woman. (Emphasis mine.)
Even with the comma that CBS helpfully inserted, the sentence reads as follows: “That’s been an image that people have tried to paint of me since the day Barack announced that I’m some angry black woman.” Certainly when I heard Michelle on the radio, I did a double-take and had to rewind the sentence in my mind to figure out that she meant to say that, “Since the day Barack announced that he was running for president, people have tried to paint me as some angry black woman.”
Whether you’re speaking or writing, grammar matters — unless you’re comfortable telling the world that your husband stands in the forefront of people contending that you are indeed an angry black woman.
I like Kristin Chenoweth and I suffer from migraines, so this story caught my eye. And then the bad grammar in the second paragraph made my eyes roll:
Meghan Prophet says Chenoweth felt a migraine coming on after winning an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a comedy series and doing press interviews. Prophet says Chenoweth laid down and onsite paramedics checked on the former “” actress.
This is truly a media in decline. But here’s a palette cleanser, with Chenoweth doing what she does best: