If you’re Huntington West Virginia’s attorney, and you have to write a piece in the local press defending the city against charges that its inept appeals board let a pretty obvious criminal open a bar where a mass shooting gained national attention, you need to know how to write English. You need to know how to write what writing instructors like SOS call a persuasive essay.

In the case of this obviously botched process, you need to begin by conceding that the city could have done better; after that, you can go to town defending Huntington as having done not that badly, or whatever.

Huntington’s attorney has instead produced a miserable mess, a blahblah brew that (as comments on the article suggest) only confirms everyone’s prejudice that lawyers are people who produce double talk and bullshit on request. On the simplest level of word meaning, this writer fails.

The frightening prospect of a dispute resulting in the shooting of several people that occurred between the prosperous downtown area and Marshall University warrants our collective focus and resolution that no similar event can occur here again.

Put aside the indecipherable wordy weirdness of the sentence altogether – the redundancy of the passive, ugly “occur,” the bizarre placement of the shooting’s location not at the Kulture Hookah bar but I dunno somewhere between the prosperous (why is prosperous relevant?) downtown (you don’t need area, unless your goal is to lard and muddy and fog and vagueify and pass the buck and pretend what happened didn’t sorta actually happen), the tea party word dispute instead of fight… Seven people aren’t left crawling among broken beer bottles inside and bullet casings outside after a dispute. Put all of that aside and notice that the writer thinks prospect means fact.

This event wasn’t in some cloudy future, much as the writer clearly wants it to be; it happened. Hence the word he ‘s looking for is fact, or event, or episode, or incident.

Of course, if he knew how to write he would have avoided this problem altogether: The frightening shootout at Kulture Hookah can never happen again. That’s all the poor man needed, not all those other words. But writing like that communicates an open straightforward grounding in reality, which is the last thing this guy wants, has, or is capable of expressing.

The rest of the opinion piece dances around the failure of the city to check the bar owner’s heroin distribution background before granting her a permit.

The writer ends in this way:

Every person who had a hand in addressing the matter performed his or her job with competence. The shooting occurred because of unpredictable criminal behavior…

Nothing to see here! We concede nothing! Absolutely everyone who runs the second largest city in a state with the highest opioid death rate in the United States is doing a great job!

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One Response to “Scathing Online Schoolmarm says: If you can’t write, and you MUST write, find someone else to write for you.”

  1. charlie Says:

    Two words. Grade inflation…

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