Saturday, December 29, 2012

Spell Check Isn't The End All for Proofing

I love the computer. I love the internet. I love being able to read news stories or entertainment bits and business news any time I want, when I'm ready to read them. I'm most definitely a child of the 70's who grew up just in time for computers to come into the mainstream. I remember when my High School installed its first six PC terminals in Mrs. Mason's typing classroom with fondness and nostalgia. Of course, this was before Windows operating system when everyone used DOS or MS DOS. And before anyone but military personnel had ever heard of the internet or world wide web.

I also remember when finding a mistake in a newspaper article or magazine was a rare thing and resulted in clipping said article for inclusion in a scrap book. When I was in school (both High School and college) I was constantly reminded by teachers and professors to proofread, proofread, proofread and when done proofreading, proofread again just to be certain. Now, I will admit that I have posted comments on Facebook or tweeted things that I didn't proofread which included misspelled words or doubled words or incorrect words and even synonyms which didn't quite fit with my intended thought, but I'm not paid to write for a news agency, newspaper or magazine. I've had numerous conversations with most of my friends and close relations about this topic, and they, too, are as confounded as I at the blatant errors to be found in nearly every news item or article found on the internet and especially in those articles produced for the AP or online magazines and newspapers.

I understand the ease of using F7 to check the spelling of the document you're working on, and even my computer offers basic grammar rules in the spell checker. I've copied and pasted certain text from online articles to a blank Word document and pressed F7 only to find that spell checker did find the same mistake I did, so I'm truly at a loss as to how some of these mistakes make it into print, as it were. So, not only does it seem the writers aren't proofreading, some of them aren't even using a very good spell checker! But even if the writer and their spell checker misses something in their article, don't these articles have to be read by an editor before they're posted online, published or printed? Are there not at least two or three people other than the author who read these things before they're released to the public?

I realize the state of education in this country isn't what it once it was, but these mistakes are simple, stupid and are things even a third grader would spot.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Freedom of Speech: Whose Right Prevails?

I recently read an article about a Christian man who was complaining because he had made some comments regarding homosexuals which had resulted in him losing his job. He was angry that his employer had fired him for his comments and called his former employer several names. Among his complaints, he charged that the employer was promoting a homosexual agenda by firing him for his views, which he claimed he had the rights and freedom to express under the 1st Amendment.

Today I read about a petition to force a university to re-hire a coach whom they had fired despite the coaches winning season, citing the fact the coach did not reflect the values of the university and they wanted to find someone who "better represented" them. The student who started the petition didn't think it was fair that the university had terminated the coach based on his personal life and was upset that the university had the right to do so because they are in a right to work state where the employer does not have to show cause for termination.

In both of these instances, freedom of speech is the central issue, however, in both instances the "injured" party doesn't take into consideration the rights of the others involved. They want THEIR rights but they don't want to allow others to have, or exercise those same rights and privileges and freedoms.

So, where do our rights to freedom of speech and expression end and the rights of others to freedom of speech and expression begin? We all want the right to speak our minds, to have our say, without restriction. But in doing so, where do we draw the line in limiting what others have the right to say in opposition? Or in what situation do others have the right to limit or even prevent us from speaking our opinions freely? It is definitely a difficult question to answer and an even more difficult quandary to be in.

Many people feel that they are "right" so therefore they have the right to speak their mind without restriction. They fail to recognize those of the opposing opinion also believe themselves to be "right" and believe they have the same right to speak without restriction. With each side believing themselves to be right, neither is going to relinquish the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution. And even though both parties consider their opposition to be wrong, in some cases it could happen that neither side is actually wrong.

In the instances presented at the beginning of this blog, the gentleman who lost his job does, indeed, have the right to say what he feels is right and wrong according to his beliefs and morals, however his employer also has the right to limit what may be said in the workplace, therefore the termination of the employment would be legitimate. As for the coach losing his job, again, the university was within its rights to terminate that coach. No matter how the student feels, the university is located in a state where no cause is necessary for terminating an employee. If the person in charge of the hiring and firing of that coach didn't like the tie the coach was wearing that day or the way the coach parted his hair, they are allowed to fire the coach even for those silly little reasons in that state. We may believe it was fair, but that doesn't matter: they have the right.

The first amendment guarantees us the right to speak freely but we also have the responsibility to speak responsibly at the time and in the place that is appropriate.