How Pants Work
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How Pants Work

There’s always a silver lining

At Least I Haven’t Been Called a “Grammar Nazi” Since It Became Clear That There Are Actual Nazis Around

Fussiness pales in comparison to fascism.

I have always acted only with the best interests of society in mind.

Something just dawned on me, and it actually — though not literally; never literally — brought a little sunshine to my day: I haven’t been called a “grammar Nazi” for a while, probably since it became apparent that there are real Nazis posting on social media. I guess it just doesn’t seem appropriate (or fair?) to equate my constructive concern with accuracy and detail in matters of communication with the behaviors of those who hold and promote extreme racist views. Fussiness pales in comparison to fascism. It’s not much of a silver lining, of course, but it’s mine.

I’m not saying that I’m glad there are bigots spewing epithets and death threats at segments of the global populace, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved that I can now comment on the wording of those epithets and death threats without having some hurled at me, individually. Not so long ago, if I were to comment “*their” on a post reading, “Jews destroy all faiths with they’re materialistic liberalism,” I would immediately be met with unrestrained hostility and outright anti-semantism.

I would gladly go back to a time when I was the “villain.”

But these days, my preoccupation with proper language is barely noticed, much less demonized, in large part because the indignation once directed at me is now needed for re-election campaign ads featuring a symbol used to label opponents of the Nazi Party… or “America First” T-shirts displaying a graphic with an uncanny, uncomfortable resemblance to the Reichsadler of Nazi Germany. It’s gotten to the point — for better or worse, depending on who you are and how you feel about grammar — that if someone tweets “Hail Hitler” and I reply, “*Heil,” I won’t catch hell for my contribution to the conversation. (Full disclosure: My own pet “Nazism” extends to spelling as well.)

That said, I would gladly go back to a time when I was the “villain.” I hardly think I deserved the unrelenting scorn heaped upon me for merely pointing out the errors of others, but whereas I was wagging just one rigid, accusatory finger, nowadays West Virginia Department of Corrections cadets and Wisconsin high school students alike aren’t afraid to stiffen their arms and lift their open hands into the air for a graduation or junior prom photograph. Of course, I have always acted only with the best interests of society in mind, and my actions should never have prompted a furor.

In fact, if I could travel in time — literally — I would almost certainly go back as far as necessary to eliminate Nazism altogether, be that to the year of Adolf Hitler’s birth or some other pivotal moment at which I would find the courage to kill a baby for the sake of humanity. And if that meant that my own surviving crusade to rid the world of undesirable linguistic notions would make me the new worst person in recent memory, at least I’d have affected some positive change on history.

Effected? Fine. Even the real Nazis weren’t perfect.

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