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January 31, 2008


I guess you have a point, Brendan, especially given your implication that the incorrect use of quotation marks drives you nuts. However, a couple of points in defense of the WSJ:

1. IMHO their scare quotes are partially meant to be funny. Humor often doesn't satisfy perfect usage rules.

2. I would quibble with the comment, "Mukasey would hypothetically be concluding that waterboarding is actually illegal (not 'illegal')." Only an appropriate judge or court could conclude on waterboarding's legality. Mukasey could only offer an opinion.

I'm no style guide guru, but the editorial previously quoted Larry Summers saying that his plan would give money to "those who would go out and spend it."

It's pretty clear that the WSJ's quoted "spending it" is in reference to what Summers said; while not a verbatim quote, it's not really a scare quote either.

They use quotes when they want to highlight a concept AND when they want to cast doubts on the legitimacy of a concept.

I guess the aren't really "conservative" when it comes to using "quotes".

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