TEAL has been arrested.

Posted: August 27th, 2008

Ever since learning of the Typo Eradication Advancement League‘s spot of legal trouble (yesterday, I guess—how time flies), I’ve been mulling over the situation.

I don’t think that correcting the grammar in any sign, government property or otherwise, is worthy of a year’s probation, a $3,035 fine, and a year-long ban from all national parks.

I hate to tell the government to lighten up, but that’s how I feel about the matter. As far as I’m aware, the “repairs” being made to the sign which was “defaced” will restore it to its prior, incorrect punctuation (and the egregious [or archaic, depending on whom you ask] spelling of “emense” [sic] will surely remain). I am fairly certain that it would take very little effort to correct the sign in a manner which would match its original appearance—it is not the sign’s grammar which makes it historic.

Let me state that I do believe that TEAL went a little too far on this one, and I think Jeff would agree. A quote from 5/24/08 on the TEAL blog clarifies:

Could I get in trouble if I fixed the mistake on my own? If you’re smart about it, you’ll be okay. Again, having a buddy along is helpful, for running interference or keeping watch while you work. Make it look as pretty/consistent as you can. You should only really correct something without asking if there’s no one around to ask or you can predict that the response would be tepid. I would recommend staying away from state- or federal-owned property, though… trust me on this one. (Emphasis added.)

I am not suggesting that anyone ought to be able to doodle all over government signage, but that Jeff + Ben should have received a (metaphorical) slap on the wrist for such a small offense. They were not acting with any malice, but instead with the overall intent to enlighten the American population and promote proper grammar and spelling. 

Just as excellence begets excellence, errors beget further errors. Reinforcing incorrect language patterns is of no use to anyone. 

Writing a letter to the management about the errors would have been the best line of action, I think—though I doubt anyone would have bothered to listen.

I sincerely hope that TEAL will return to its faithful supporters, when legally allowed to. The world is sorely in need of a good editor. I’ll be waiting.


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