How The Oxford Comma Created A Small Diplomatic Incident

How the UK has or hasn’t threatened to divide Sri Lanka

Indi Samarajiva
Dec 5 · 3 min read

The UK Conservative party’s neglect of the Oxford comma has caused a small diplomatic incident with Sri Lanka. This missing comma would punctuate Sri Lanka’s borders and our government has stopped fighting Switzerland long enough to address this insult.

Once the UK is done fucking itself, it will get back to fucking the world

This is all stupid, like the Conservative party, but I won’t get into the content yet, just the grammar.

You use an Oxford comma like this:

Cyprus, Sri Lanka, and the Middle East, which we’ll continue bombing.

In this case the Middle East gets bombed, but not Sri Lanka. The Oxford comma protects us.

Cyprus, Sri Lanka and the Middle East, which we’ll continue bombing.

If you don’t use the Oxford comma, Sri Lanka also gets bombed. This is the problem.

Sometimes the Oxford comma is optional. Like Paul, John, George and Ringo. George and Ringo are not one person and no one will get confused. This is actually standard usage. Sometimes, however, the comma is really important, and this is one of those times. The Conservative Party should have known better, but this is presuming that they are thinking out their policies at all.

The Oxford Comma is not the end of this sentence’s problems. A bigger issue is, what does Middle East mean in this context?

The Middle East, which they propose dividing, is at least 18 countries already. Do the Conservatives want to condense that into two? Sunnistan and Shiastan? I guess you could just call them Eurasia and Eastasia and bomb them alternately, a la 1984.

You could say that everyone knows they’re referring to Israel/Palestine, but do they? Do words matter? Does anything matter? This seems to be the great question of this century.

This is the hubris of the Conservative Party, A) that they know what they’re doing and B) that the world cares. Their main task seems to imploding Britain into a Brexit black hole, cutting off Europe on one side while Scotland falls off the other. All while imposing austerity and plunging their own people into pointless, uneconomic misery. Toss in xenophobia and racism and you have the Conservative manifesto, with hardly any time left over to mess up the rest of the world.

In that sense, the Labour Party’s manifesto is much better. The Conservatives don’t mention the legacy of colonialism at all, except to mindlessly continue its hubris and idiocy. Labour actually looks that outrage in the eye.

Create an Emancipation Educational Trust to educate around migration and colonialism, and to address the legacy of slavery and teach how it interrupted a rich and powerful black history which is also British history. (Page 67)

We will also ensure that black and Asian soldiers who fought in Britain’s colonial armies receive a full apology and explore ways to compensate them for the discriminatory demob payments. (Page 101)

Conduct an audit of the impact of Britain’s colonial legacy to understand our contribution to the dynamics of violence and insecurity across regions previously under British colonial rule. (Page 96)

This is actually real change, as the title of the manifesto implies.

The UK’s destructive dalliance in two or more state solutions goes deeper than a comma, but the cause is the same. From the Skyes-Picot line to this, they should actually be looking at themselves rather than trying to save the world they broke.

It’s called an Oxford comma. You would think that at least one Tory had been there.

Indi Samarajiva

Written by

Colombo liberal. Writer, father. Founder of YAMU and Kottu.

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