They need to be changed often

for the same reason”

That is a notorious misspelled protest sign photographed at a rally and posted on the “Teabonic” Hall of Fame website.







OK, that last one did not have a typo but it’s an instant classic and who can guess who’s side he was on?

Words are everywhere these days. Only the best words. I read recently that we should not get uptight about spelling errors any more.

Lucy Kellaway is an author and Financial Times columnist. She makes mistakes, too.

“Afterwards we are programmed to read only what we think we have written, not what we actually have.”

In other words, we don’t notice typos that we are responsible for.

There are not many spellers left. I’m certainly not one of them but when I see a blatant mistake I confess that I can get riled. I’ve been around enough high school teachers to see that they love to point out when you make a mistake, even if, especially if, you are a college graduate.

I see people on social media, driving people nuts with their shabby language and misplaced punctuation. Now they are out on the streets with their protest signs …



 That’s real. Real news. And when you are infromed it’s hard to get uninfromed.

There used to be a bit of decorum around words but we as a culture have slipped down so low. If you want a taste of something clever and sweet you may have to go across the pond to listen to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who said, “My friends, as I have discovered myself, there are no disasters, only opportunities. And, indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters.”


He also said, “When lorry drivers come up behind me and I’m cycling, innocently keeping to my side of the road, and they decide because they are so big, and their lorry is so powerful, and they just want to clear me out of the road, and they hoot aggressively, then I do see red a bit. I do.”

Now things are in the locker room and they may never be coming out. Even the silent lamb George W. Bush poked his head up last week and tried to say something eloquent.

“We cannot allow physical separation to become emotional isolation,” Bush said, adding: “This requires us to be not only compassionate but creative in our outreach and people across the nation are using the tools of technology and the cause of solidarity.”

He got attacked for that because he didn’t speak out about the impeachment process. What?

“I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English,” then President Bush said in April, 2006.

Don’t worry. If you are like two-thirds of the nation you don’t know the words to the first verse of the national anthem any better than George W, never mind how to spell too, two times.

I’d bet you dollars to donuts that W, or any protester with a MORAN sign, can’t do the whole first verse or one word of the second verse of the Star Spangled Banner in English or Spanish.

A Harris poll found that the great majority of us don’t know those words. And I’m willing to bet that nine-tenths of the people in the nation can’t recite a line of the second verse, never mind the third or fourth verses.

OK, sing with me! (Sing to the tune of The Star Spangled Banner):

“On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,

Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,

What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,

As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?

Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,

In full glory reflected now shines on the stream:

‘Tis the star-spangled banner! O long may it wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”


Francis Scott Key thought that up while watching the Brits shell an American fort near Baltimore in 1814.

I’ve heard it suggested that we make “America the Beautiful” the new anthem and that’s not a bad idea. But we might as well go all the way and make it simple. Real simple.

For starters we need to edit the thing down to one manageable verse. When I say manageable, I mean memorable and manageable. If the anthem has to have more than one verse let’s make it predictable like “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,” or “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” And the tune? Something that any 3-year-old can pull off with confidence. “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” and “We Are the Champions” spring to mind.

The old anthem is too difficult. Even Jimi Hendrix, the world’s greatest guitarist, had to soak 15 hits of windowpane acid into his headband just to make sense of it.

I know what you are thinking. But finding that much acid these days is problematic.

Reach Steve Skinner at nigel@sopris.net.