Saturday, August 1, 2009

If it starts with bumper stickers, where does it end?

I’m driving behind a car with bumper stickers. Although I try to resist judgment in most situations, I find myself slipping as I read one of the pearls of wisdom adhered forevermore to the rear of this vehicle: “Unless you’re a hemroid, get off my ass.” While I could easily be offended by the philosophy behind the bumper sticker (or puzzled by the fact the driver wants a hemorrhoid on his ass), it is the lack of regard for proper spelling that leaves me most shaken. Do bumper sticker producers have no quality assurance standards? No editorial review process? How could such an egregious* spelling error get through to print, and then – perhaps more shockingly – be considered worthy of purchase?

Surely there’s an explanation. I begin to question my own spelling prowess. Maybe there are two ways of spelling “hemorrhoid.” Maybe I’ve had it wrong all along. As soon as I get home, I look up “hemroid” in an online dictionary. “The word you have entered doesn’t exist.” You’ve got that right, Merriam Webster. I breathe a sigh of relief. But my feeling of smugness is quickly replaced by a pit in my stomach. Somewhere out there, maybe even closer than I dare think, someone is producing bumper stickers without a conscience, preying (or praying) on the bad spellers of the world. And who’s to say they’ll stop at bumper stickers? T-shirts, playing cards, key chains – the sky is the limit for these renegades…if we let them win.

I for one am not prepared to let that happen. If we accept “hemroid” on a bumper sticker, what next? “Honk if you love Jesis”? or “I climbed Mount Woshington”? If we stand by while this anarchy of the English language unfolds before us, what is the societal cost? Too high, I say – too high. I will not stop until these spell-snubbing scofflaws are brought to justice – or English class. Honk if you’re with me.

*I have to come clean – I had to look up the spelling on this one.

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