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Independence Day: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Typos
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I hope you enjoy your watermelon, fireworks and parades this Independence Day. I’m sort of burned out on the holiday.
Somehow or another I got corralled into proofreading a history textbook chapter on the American Revolution. Whether because of political correctness, a desire to give the material a contemporary feel or just plain sloppy research, the authors conducted a Boston Massacre of the facts. I assure you that:
- Thomas Paine stirred up the colonists with a pamphlet called “Common Sense,” not “Well, Duh!”
- The Intolerable Acts were not what you have to endure during the early weeks of “American Idol.”
- The “Don’t Tread On Me” flag did not have “...unless you’re wearing the latest Air Jordans” in fine print.
- As the organizer of the first Committee of Correspondence, Samuel Adams never used the abbreviation ROFLMPWO (Rolling On Floor Laughing My Powdered Wig Off).
- The Stamp Act Congress was organized to deal with oppressive taxes imposed by the British, not to choose between “young Elvis” and “fat Elvis.”
- The Patriots and the Loyalists (ignore any remaining references to “the Patriots Versus the Steelers”!) argued over many things, but whether the Liberty Bell sounded better on vinyl or in digital format was not one of them.
- Despite its appeal to urban audiences, there was no “Midnight Low-Ride of Paul Revere.” And it is only 21st century imprecision that would begin a poem “On the 18th of April in 75-ish...”
- The famous “shot heard round the world” was met with cheers, not a half-hearted NRA observation of “Yeah, but if they’d had a higher-capacity magazine...”
- When Yankee Doodle stuck a feather in his cap, he called it “macaroni,” not “gluten free.”
- Patrick Henry indeed declared “Give me liberty or give me death,” not “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.”
- Thomas Jefferson realized that government derives power from the consent of the governed - not from Ben Franklin’s cockamamie kite!
- The leaders of the Revolution were keenly concerned about “natural rights” - not “genetically modified rights.”
- When John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence large enough for King George III to read it across the Atlantic, it met with the approval of his peers - not an outburst of “John Hancock? What kind of Independence Day autograph is that??? I was hoping for Will Smith.”
- No evidence exists that Betsy Ross organized an early needle exchange program.
- The Minutemen were brave colonial soldiers, not “pizza delivery guys with a really ambitious business model.”
- Naval hero John Paul Jones did not think the nation’s founding should be marked as “Co-Dependence Day,” so he did not utter the words, “I have not yet begun to enable.”
- Valley Forge was the scene of valiant sacrifice, not the composition of the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
- George Washington was declared Father of Our Country because of his selfless leadership skills, not a DNA test and a sleazy private investigator named Mike.
One of my friends has the unenviable task of proofreading the chapter on World War II. My only advice is, if the section on Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s retreat from the Philippines has him promising, “I shall re-gift,” get ready for a really long ordeal.
Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”.