Our Street Gangs Are Probably Using Bad Language

In This Section

Vol 31 Issue 01

Poor Kwanzaa Sales Disappoint Retailers

WASHINGTON, DC—Kwanzaa officials received sobering news Monday, as the Department of Commerce announced that Kwanzaa holiday sales for the U.S. totalled $178. The figure represents the lowest total since 1992, the year the holiday was invented. At Abe's Kwanzaa Emporium in Los Angeles, rows of unsold Kwanzaa trees were thrown out, while rolls of Kwanzaa-themed wrapping paper gathered dust in giant bins. Even A&M Records' much-hyped holiday CD, A Bryan Adams Kwanzaa, fared poorly, selling just three copies.

Area Pie Hole Shut

TEMPE, AZ—A local pie hole was definitively shut Saturday. After droning on incessantly about matters witnesses say were trivial and "more than just a little" annoying, the pie hole was forcefully instructed by a loud-mouthed neighbor to be shut. Plans to re-open the pie hole are being withheld until it needs more pie.

Oakland Teacher Mistakenly Teaches 'Economics'

OAKLAND, CA—In an effort to abide by the Oakland Public Schools' new "ebonics" instruction regulations, one area teacher mistakenly began teaching the subject of "economics" to her 11th-grade class Monday. Suzanne Byrne, a 13-year teaching veteran, badly confused students when she attempted to explain to them such complex economic principles as stagflation, Keynesian incrementalism, and the invisible hand of laissez-faire capitalism. School superintendent Melvin Washington was outraged upon learning of Byrne's actions, saying: "The voodoo she was teaching involved numbers and complex calculations, which no high-school student can reasonably be expected to understand." Washington insisted that instruction be limited to the study of ebonics, or—in the school's new higher-level Sanford and Son-themed curriculum—the study of "Lamontics," which helps young people better understand Lamont Sanford.

Budget Talks Dreadlocked

WASHINGTON, DC—President Clinton cited "a profound lack of irie vibrations" as the main reason budget talks became dreadlocked this week. Congress and the President had been in negotiations since last October, but according to House officials, a common ground could not be reached due to "a lack of positive riddims." "If only Ras Tafari were still with us," Rep. Glen Browder (D-AL) said. "He would have given us the wisdom to cut back on porkbarrel legislation and get the budget passed." Sen. Al D'Amato (R-NY) added: "Hopefully, we can reach some sort of bipartisan compromise and get this natty dreadlock resolved. Praise Jah." After talks stalled again Monday, legislators tabled negotiations until next week, using the recess to get high.

Unambitious Terrorists Overturn Trash Can

JERUSALEM—The Bedouin Free Army, described by State Department officials as an unambitious offshoot of the PLO, is claiming responsibility for Sunday's overturning of a garbage can near the Western Wall. According to reports, the group intended to bring attention to what they called a "serious lack of pens" in Bedouin Army encampments near the Gaza Strip. Israeli officials had ignored the group's most serious act prior to Sunday, the 1995 slamming down of a phone receiver "really hard," according to State Department files. No one was hurt in the trash can incident, though several pieces of crumpled paper, three falafel balls and a shoe were badly scattered.

Murder Down In The Big Apple

Murder rates dropped in New York City for the third straight year in 1996, with total homicides in the city under 1,000 for the first time since the mid-1960s. What do you think of the surprising statistics?

1996 Was The Year Of The Celebrity!

What a crazy year it was! So many big names made news in 1996, it will certainly go down as The Year Of The Celebrity. With that in mind, let's look back into Jackie Harvey's crystal ball...
End Of Section
  • More News
TV Listings
Just Like Everything Else!: Fox 8 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. ABC Pete's wife is still on him about building that darn shed, these kids are going to be the death of Sheila and Dave, and the hot next-door neighbor is up in EVERYBODY'S business! Sunday nights on ABC couldn't be any more familiar!

Special Coverage

Good Times

Man Considers Nodding Approvingly After Friend’s Drink Purchase

MEQUON, WI—Seeking to convey his endorsement of his acquaintance's selection at local bar Coney's Draft House this evening, area man Thomas Dodge told reporters that he was considering nodding approvingly at his friend’s alcoholic beverage pur...

Our Street Gangs Are Probably Using Bad Language

While recently wandering the rotting underbelly of my favorite local urban wasteland at 3 a.m., I was accosted by a roughneck gang of thugs who demanded my wallet. With a grandfatherly sense of duty I handed it over to them; then they clonked me over the noggin and ran off.

Six hours later, after brushing off most of the garbage that came from the dumpster in which they'd thrown me, I was overcome with a shock of rage. My face turned beet-red with anger and revulsion. These thugs hadn't said please! Not only that, their grammar in general was atrocious.

Here are just a few snippets of our evening's conversation as I recall it:

"Hey, old man. You think you feelin' lucky tonight?"

"Gimme your money, or I'll knife you dead."

"I gots the cash, now smack the geezer and run!"

My entire face reddens with pique at the thought of the momentous amount of wasted tax dollars that this shameless display of bad grammar represents.

When I was a young man, my gang always chose a designated grammarian before we hit the streets. We looted, harassed and destabilized neighborhoods with impeccable speech. If somebody was caught using "ain't" or a double negative during our looting and vandalizing, it was the designated grammarian's task to point this out to the offender. First he'd recite the proper usage from Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, then he'd whap the ignoramus in the ribs with a pipe.

Today, I see hardly any of this vigilance.

After my ordeal, I decided to see if things are as bad with other alternative youth recreational organizations. I made it a point to follow around several of the most vicious, murderous, drug-shoving gangs to observe their grammar. At rst I felt rather nostalgic for the moonshine-running and fun-loving mob activity of my youth. I look back with the greatest fondness to my days as a thug with my trusty Unabridged Oxford Dictionary at my side. But these images were quickly dashed by my further observation of the sad state of today's gang language.

I rst chose a group of personable young folks who called themselves the 99th Street Death Machine. At rst their youthful antics charmed me, particularly a little drive-by shooting organized by their leader, a surly 18-year-old who went by the name of Attitude.

But my charm soon turned to rock-bottom disgust as I heard their language: double negatives everywhere--a gut-wrenching penchant for the use of slang over the proper King's English. In one heated exchange alone, overheard during a shootout over a heroin deal gone bad, I heard 16 slang words, 10 swear words, ve dangling participles, and a rambling subjunctive clause that just begged for placement in a more appropriate syntax.

I went on to observe 26 more gangs, all with the same damning results. If today's teachers can't teach proper grammatical usage to our youth during the few classes they attend before dropping out, I say let's save ourselves some tax dollars and close down the schools altogether. No wonder our nation is lagging behind Japan: Our schools are failing our gangs.

Also, a good vocabulary helps young people get things done more efciently. If the gang members who mugged me had expressed their desires properly, they would have secured my wallet far more quickly, giving them extra time for other important criminal activity.

I have another proposal that could kill two birds with one stone: Use some of the trillions of dollars that are wasted supporting billions of shiftless welfare freeloaders by putting them to work teaching proper English to today's incoherent street gangs. There's a whole generation of felonious drug dealers out there looking to us to help them learn before they offend more delicate sensibilities.

It's something to think about the next time you're running for your life at 3 a.m. through a park, pursued by a carload of frisky teenagers shouting threats in incomprehensible slang. Wouldn't it be a relief to understand what they are shouting at you, for once?

Next Story

Onion Video

Watch More