Oxford comma-nistas around the world are having a heyday over a recent push alert sent by Sky News, which they believe is the end-all, be-all argument in favor of their precious punctuation mark.
Now, let’s be clear: The Oxford comma is necessary in this “sentence” as it’s written. Obviously, there are some pretty serious implications without it. However, this whole “sentence,” if you can even call it that, could be rewritten for clarity, and we would not have been subjected to all this nonsense in the first place. The Oxford comma-nistas would never suggest that though!
See, the purpose of a comma when used in a list is to replace the word “and.” When you use an Oxford comma in a list of three or more items, it’s redundant. You’re essentially writing “and and.” And that’s just silly.
Let me spell it out for you using another famed Oxford comma-nista example: Instead of saying “We invited the strippers and JFK and Stalin,” you substitute “and” with commas. “We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin.”
See how I used the Oxford comma there? Because it’s necessary for clarity. Without it, one could infer the writer is saying JFK and Stalin are strippers. Better yet, you could just rewrite the sentence to read “We invited JFK, the strippers and Stalin.” Because what kind of red-blooded American puts strippers before JFK, anyway?
(JFK. JFK may have put strippers before himself.)
I’m certainly not for an outright ban of the Oxford comma. I just ask that people tasked with the glorious responsibility of writing sentences pause to think about whether it’s necessary instead of blindly inserting it. Because if you can’t make that distinction, do you really have any business writing sentences in the first place? Especially those involving world leaders and strippers.
I mean, have you been on the Internet lately? Couldn’t we all benefit from everyone taking a moment to consider whether their sentences could be written more clearly?
And Oxford comma-nistas, let me ask you: With the current state of the English language, do you really want more people paying less attention to appropriate punctuation use? Do you want society to inflict upon your precious comma the same fate that has befallen the poor semi-colon? Just scattering it throughout sentences from time to time, showing no courtesy for its intended use? Do you really have so little respect for a punctuation mark you claim to love? HAVE YOU NO SENSE OF DECENCY?!
If you continue your misguided crusade, before you know it all the written word will consist of is emoticons and Oxford commas:
So, knowing what the future holds, do you still want to continue on your quest? Let’s take a quick poll:
If your answer is still yes, fine. But just know you’ll be on the wrong side of history.