The toper's holiday
Item: One of my far-flung readers appears to be puzzled about the American celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, which he thought was meant to be a feast day honoring a saint. I can illuminate the attitude.
A few years ago, my editing class at Loyola happened to fall on March 18. A week in advance, one of my students asked me to cancel class that day, because he expected to be incapacitated after the 17th. It is a day for the Irish and the wannabe Irish to jam into those faux-rustic manufactured Irish pubs that have sprung up like mushrooms after a rain, drink far too many pints,* and grow mawkish over “Danny Boy.”
There’s enough Irish in me for the thought of a pint to be attractive, but I’d just as soon give the rest of it a miss. Besides, I have to work tomorrow evening, and editing requires sobriety.
Item: I see this in a tweet from @romenesko: “Bob Woodward says Google CEO's tombstone should read, ‘I killed newspapers.’ ” No doubt I’m remiss in not going to the link to see what Mr. Woodward had to say in detail and in context.
But I know that newspapers committed suicide.
Item: A salutary reminder from Carol Fisher Saller, who writes the question-and-answer feature each month for The Chicago Manual of Style. At her blog, The Subversive Copy Editor, she points out the futility of the search for The Rule that governs every conceivable situation: “[I]f you’re knocking yourself out trying unsuccessfully to find a rule, it might be because there isn’t one. ... No style guide can be exhaustive.”
And, newspaper copy editors please note, if the 1,026-page Chicago Manual cannot answer every imaginable question, then a fortiori it’s idle for you to play Talmudist with the Associated Press Stylebook.**
Item: You may have missed it: A few days ago The Baltimore Sun published a moving letter from Julie Francis. She is the mother of Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, at whose funeral the unspeakable Westboro Baptist Church picketed, and whose right to picket the Supreme Court recently upheld.
Ms. Francis said, in part: “I truly believe this is an issue of free speech. I do not like it, and I do not like the WBC, but it is free speech. ... I am glad the Supreme Court has ruled with the law, with the nation, with the Constitution. In America, you cannot take away the right of free speech, no matter how vile. I do believe our blessed Matt would feel the same way.”
*I see on the Internet comments about a cocktail called the “Irish car bomb” and suspect that there are reasons in addition to tastefulness to shun it.
**I’m unable to attend the national conference of the American Copy Editors Society, which opens tomorrow in Phoenix. The editors of the AP Stylebook are scheduled to be there in a session. Will one of you be good enough to give them a little hell on my behalf?