OK, so this isn’t strictly about law. I mean, it is insofar as it relates to the governor’s race and the governor signs things into law and both major candidates are lawyers. But really, it’s about grammar. Bear with me.
I just got a press release from the O’Malley campaign entitled, “Ehrlich’s ‘Faux’ Education Facts.” It goes on to use “faux,” in quotes, twice in the body of the press release. What the O’Malley folks are clearly trying to say is that Ehrlich’s facts are phony. What they are actually doing is casting doubt on the phoniness of Ehrlich’s facts by putting the word faux in quotes. It’s like when a store advertises, “Sale today! 50 percent off ‘everything’ in the store!” The store wants to emphasize that everything they have is on sale, but what they end up doing is making people wonder what’s not on sale.
What the O’Malley campaign should have done was used one of the two following titles: 1) “Ehrlich’s Faux Education Facts” (no quotation marks) or 2) “Ehrlich’s Education ‘Facts’” (quotation marks around the correct word).
To recap today’s lesson from an uptight grammar nerd: quotation marks are not for emphasis. Use them sparingly and wisely. And if you want a good laugh, go visit the “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.