Top of the evening ladies and gentlemen.
There was an article in the National Post on Saturday. The title of the article was "Bicyclists Are Not Angels". The author raises several points with which I generally agree.
Cyclists should be polite. I agree. While I firmly believe that cyclists have rights to the road no less than cars, cyclists also have rights to the road no more than cars. Being polite recognizes those equal rights.
Cyclists should face consequences when breaking the law. Again, he is right, and that is codified as law in every province and in every state. I remind everyone though that the selective enforcement of law will lead to the selective observance of law.
I wrote a letter to the editor in response to this article. In my letter, I pointed out all the wonderful ways bicyclists might do a little better in taking their rightful place on the road. I also pointed out the ways that cars might do the same. And because no one is above criticism, it might shock all of you to know that pedestrians are a problem also.
I wrote that drivers/cyclists/pedestrians should be actively visible. I wrote that they should not be wearing earbuds. I wrote that they should be predictable. It applies to everyone.
To pedestrians, I specifically wrote the following:
Entering the crosswalk with six seconds on the countdown is illegal, dangerous, and prevents cars from turning.
They printed my letter as such:
Entering the crosswalk with six seconds on the countdown is illegal, dangerous and prevents cars from turning.
I put the original text and the editor's change in bold print.
The editor removed my serial comma. Given that the editor probably makes a habit of this, I am forced to conclude that said editor regularly removes serial commas. Thus, the editor is a serial remover of the serial comma, leading to the title of this blog entry.
Admittedly, there is some dispute. When there is a list of three or more items, MLA rules of grammar dictate that there be a comma after each item. Thus, one would have this, that, and the other thing. AP rules of grammar state that it is not necessary, yielding this, that and the other thing. This dispute is long running. In researching this, I found an article in that venerable news source, The Onion. The last line of the article states that an innocent 35-year-old passerby who found himself caught up in a long-winded dispute over use of the serial, or Oxford, comma had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
I maintain that the serial comma, sometimes known as the Oxford comma, and sometimes known as the Queen's comma is necessary. Failure to have it can lead to ambiguity. For example...
I would like to thank my parents, Burger King, and Dairy Queen. I have thus thanked three separate elements. This differs from...
I would like to thank my parents, Burger King and Dairy Queen. The absence of the comma in this case makes the phrase with Burger King and Dairy Queen an appositive specifically identifying my parents, and further proves that meat and dairy can mix under certain circumstances.
Have a good evening everyone.