Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The AG's o

Few capitalization errors rankle me more than the ones that the word attorney seems to engender. The Attorney General's office! The U.S. Attorney's office!


Assuming you call the president and the pope "the president" and "the pope" when there's no name attached, and not "the President" and "the Pope," you should not be calling the attorney general and the U.S. attorney "the Attorney General" and "the U.S. Attorney." But doesn't the addition of "office" change things? It can. If you want to capitalize such an institution, fine: Attorney General's Office. U.S. Attorney's Office. If you don't, also fine: attorney general's office. U.S. attorney's office. But the caps need to match. If the pope isn't sacred, neither is the goddamned attorney general.

And if you're worried that a lowercased U.S. attorney will be mistaken for a simple American lawyer, random variance in capitalization is not the solution.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

You're Against Abortion? And? . . .

To write that a politician "opposes abortion" steers clear of the "pro-life" and "pro-choice" rhetoric that we're supposed to steer clear of, but it also ends up saying little or nothing. I hope we all, on some level, "oppose" abortion -- we just disagree on the degree to which the law should forbid it.

The traditional copy-editing fix would be to change "opposes abortion" to "opposes legalized abortion."

But beware: The governor-elect of Virginia made opposition to abortion part of his campaign platform, but he also said that he does not want to "criminalize" women and their doctors. So he opposes abortion only in the we-all-oppose-abortion sense -- fine for his stump speech, but highly misleading to cite without elaboration in a news article. (Also, if it's notable that Candidate A "opposes abortion," does that imply that the opposing candidate favors abortion?)