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“From NPR News in Washington, I’m Korva Coleman.”
My Harry’s razorblade glided across my face Thursday morning as the reader sauntered through the news roundup. I finished, closed the cabinet, and turned to leave the room. Ms. Coleman solemnly reported Governor Scott Walker’s intention to sign a Right to Work bill due on his desk soon. I paused to hear the rest of the story.
She soberly explained that the bill “bars union members from being required” to pay dues.
My internal anti-passive-voice klaxon — meticulously installed by an Air Force writing course years ago — Woop! Woop! Wooped! to life. Calling out the legislation’s indirect object to affix the verb that’s meant for the subject? Egad! Such action would have sent my technical sergeant instructor to sick call.
Talk about torturing the language to extract the desired victimhood! It got me thinking how waterboarding other prose could change reader perceptions (I need a go-ahead from John Yoo first).
I can hear it now (insert your favorite NPR voice here):
“Burger King bars customers from being required to have the Whopper Burger King’s way.”
“Satellite TV bars customers from being required to accept cable monopoly offerings.”
“eHarmony bars users from being required to date that roommate’s coworker’s friend who’s coming off a rough breakup but has a great personality.”
Or my favorite, “My 20% home equity bars me from being required to pay private mortgage insurance!”
What actual examples or snarkily concocted crimes against the passive voice could you employ to gain the spin you desire?
I’d enjoy a weekend chuckle if you have the strength to respond. (And yes, I used “NPR” several times to impress Rob Long.)