October 21, 2005

Let's Examine Good Writing Skills

Alright, I know there's a lot of people out on the Internet. I'm sure that hundreds of millions are out there. Some of these people think that they're qualified to be writers. They're wrong. Internet writing inherently is degraded by a few factors:

1.) Anonymity. This makes people think they can say anything and get away with it.

2.) Procrastination. Most people writing stuff don't plan beforehand and are simply making stuff up. (I suffer a lot from this one).

3.) Laziness. There is very, very little fact checking on the Internet.

So what does this lead to? It creates websites where libel* is rampant.

So let's examine an article gone wrong, and then compare it to one that's gone right.
The article in question.

Every week, my favorite magazine, Sports Illustrated has an incredible section called This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse.

Children, the comma is your friend. Note the missing one in this sentence. On the Internet, since persuasive speaking really can't get seen through writing, grammar matters.

First, they wanted to remove the ten commandments from some random courtroom, then, they tried to stop a judge from prohibiting the publishing of NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Love Association) pamphlets that describe the best ways to seduce young boys.

The first part in itself shows a lack of research through laziness (3). This author never shows why this is bad at all, nor does anything but point to a court case with no reference. For all we know he could be making this up.

Now the second part (note the horrible transition which is grammatically incorrect) is the libel of this post. The case he was referring to was Curley vs. NAMBLA, which of course was about a child predator. Why was NAMBLA involved? This was because the guy accessed their website before and after a child rape crime, and because he had 8 issues of the NAMBLA magazine. This is the equivalent of suing McDonalds because some fat employee bought a Big Mac before leaving his shift to murder 10 people. I don't see this author advocating disbanding the NRA because its members buy guns and guns can kill people. The fundamental problem here is twofold:

First, he assumes the ACLU supports NAMBLA's position, which the ACLU doesn't. In a statment released by the Boston Globe: "We've never taken a position that sexual-consent laws are beyond the state's power to legislate," John Reinstein, attorney for the Massachusetts branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in 1997. "I've never been able to fathom their position." (Boston Globe, October 9, 1997).

Second, he is simply trying to pass responsibility onto another agent. It was the guy's fault for the crime. Blaming the NAMBLA and the ACLU by correlation is like blaming a video game manufacturer for a teenage shooting.

"This is the case with the ACLU which has taken to attacking anything Christian instead of actually protecting our rights.

This, of course, is bad for the author's position since he himself attacks everything religious, ever. He even had a previous post against Hinduism.

I just can't see how anyone could find Christmas offensive. This is almost as ridiculous as finding Harry Potter satanic.

See above.

Just don't go saying that your purpose is defending our valuable liberties when all you want to do is stop Christianity from being displayed in public.

This is laziness (3). The principle of separation of Church and State is lost on the author. Oh wait, look at that. That statement in itself shows how subtley Christianity is ingrained into American culture. Why isn't separation of Synagogue and State, or separation of Mosque and State? If religion pervades the governmental system, then sooner or later, we'll arrive at a democracy like Iran's.

"(Someone who is probably going to balance the anti liberal stance he took in this post with an anti conservative stance in his next article; by the way this was poorly written)"

Too afraid to take a stance? Maybe. At least he acknowledges that his writing is horrible.

*Libel is the falsification of statements beyond hyperbole. For example, saying "John Wayne has no talent" is hyperbole or opinion, while saying "John Wayne slept with his director" without anything backthing this up is libel.


  1. I agree with your points, Alex. Anonymity, procrastination and laziness are certainly three of the main reasons why there is so much junk on the Web. I helped publish a decent website about writing and I know how difficult it can be to forge ahead and finish a writing project. Quality content is the number one reason people return to a website.

  2. I don't attack everything religious ever, just islam and hinduism since they're terrible. Making unfounded claims seems to be your idea of fun.