… that infelicities of style can have serious repercussions.
The father of a Stanford University swimmer just convicted of sexual assault has upset a lot of people by writing that his son having to register as a sex offender and go to jail for six months is “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.”
Ahem. You and I know that he didn’t mean “action” in the xxx sense, in which people routinely talk about – for instance – girl on girl action. But that is where this man’s unheedful language has perhaps taken us, and it is, given the circumstances, a very unfortunate place indeed. Rather than get us thinking about a brief drunken hideous act in the context of an entire life, he has us picturing his son grinningly getting some action.