I favor a return to both.
(I know it’s a block quote. READ IT ANYWAY!)
Ah, the under-appreciated importance of our punctuation friend, the comma.
Some writers use far too many. Others don’t use enough.
The latter was the case in an Ohio community. And Judge Robert A. Hendrickson in the 12th District Court of Appeals ruled, with far more impact than even the most self-important editor or elementary school teacher could possess, that commas do count.
The case involved Andrea Cammelleri, a woman who parked her truck on a street in West Jefferson, Ohio, for a day, and by doing so violated the village’s ordinance that prohibited parking any “motor vehicle camper, trailer, farm implement and/or non-motorized vehicle” on a street for more than 24 hours.
Ms. Cammelleri was busted by an efficient township police officer.
Her 1993 Ford truck was not only ticketed, it was towed away and impounded.
But she refused to pay her fine, arguing that she had not parked a trailer, farm implement, non-motorized vehicle or even a “motor vehicle camper” on the street. She had parked a truck.
Ms. Cammelleri pointed out that if the ordinance read “motor vehicle, camper, etc.” she would have gladly paid the fine as part of her civic duty because her truck is certainly a motor vehicle. But it does not come close to being a “motor vehicle camper.”
The trial court judge decided that anyone in his or her right mind would realize when reading the ordinance in context that it unambiguously applied to motor vehicles and “anybody reading [the ordinance] would understand that it is just missing a comma.” Ms. Cammelleri was found guilty of violating West Jefferson Codified Ordinances 351.16(a) and ordered to pay court costs.
But that was only round one.
Cammelleri appealed. And won.
Read it all here and pass it along.
In the battle to preserve civilization, commas matter.
Reminds me of the ablative absolute in Heller.