Avast, Matey, heave to
Given the rate at which print and electronic publications and publishing houses have been discarding their copy editors, it seemed only a matter of time until the last of us, stuffed and mounted, or perhaps mummified, would be put on display at the Smithsonian, along with Martha, the last passenger pigeon.
But walking around Fells Point’s Privateer Day with my daughter this afternoon, I caught a glimpse of a possible future for us.
In the 18th century (good times), nations that came up short on naval resources resorted to privateers, essentially pirates who were licensed to plunder and, at least officially, limited in their targets. For our beached copy editors, the role of privateer could open up fresh possibilities for employment.
Some official organization — a logical one being the American Copy Editors Society, perhaps at its forthcoming national conference in Minneapolis — would issue letters of marque authorizing copy-editing privateers to board offending publications, seize texts and deal with them appropriately.
Some technical details — the precise wording of the letter of marque, the design of the flag under which copy-editing privateers would operate — remain to be worked out. But a fleet could be operational in comparatively short order.
For those of you who imagine that your writing is pristine and that readers will long for unmediated contact with you: Heave to and prepare to be boarded.