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By Mark Barroso Mark Barroso is a filmmaker, television soundman and former award-winning journalist living in Chatham County. He likes long walks on the beach, but only if it's the only way to get to a seaside bar.

GRUMPY vs. Facebook

By Mark Barroso Posted April 29, 2014 at 6:00 am

Since it’s tax season (which season isn’t?), I’d like to register my support for the latest proposal out of Raleigh: HB6349, the “Grammar Restoration Unknown to Many People, Yo!” Act. Punctuation proliferation has gotten out of hand, and we must find a way to make money on it.

GRUMPY is one of those rare bi-partisan bills that offers something for everyone. But more on that later. This is the section where I’m supposed to explain what the hell I’m talking about.

Tucked deep inside documents from the National Security Agency leaked by Edward Snowden is a PowerPoint presentation on how the government monitors the use of exclamation points on Facebook, certain words like “amazing,” and especially those creepy emoticons. What this has to do with terrorism I don’t know, but I’m all for it.

So what the authors of GRUMPY propose is to create a tax … sorry … a user fee for North Carolina residents who exceed their use of exclamation points and the word “amazing” each month on Facebook (amounts vary with age). Since the targets of this new revenue stream, the young and/or clueless, don’t follow politics or read columns like this one, the bill will probably pass without a protest from anyone.

Think of the roads that will get paved, the police officers hired, and yes, the raises for teachers that can all be funded from this simple idea. Why, taxpayers might even be able to afford to remodel the bathroom in the governor’s mansion.

Conservatives, fresh from their victory of requiring cursive writing be taught in schools, like GRUMPY because it teaches children to restrain their emotions and return us to the good ol’ days of periods, commas, and the occasional semi-colon. Back then, exclamation points were reserved for shouting “FIRE!” in war novels.

Liberals like GRUMPY because it introduces children to the concept of contributing to the common good, especially when you’re feeling exuberant and not paying attention. You’ve heard of toll roads. Think of this as toll words.

The only downside of GRUMPY I foresee is that the benefits may be short-lived. Facebook posters might actually reduce the amazing use of !!! and practice good grammar. I think we should have a GRUMPY Oversight Committee that meets every year to add new words or keystrokes to tax. Think of the good we could do (and the money we can collect) if we start taxing people who confuse “then” with “than,” or “your” with “you’re.” Heck, FB might even auto-correct the use of “there,” “their,” and “they’re” to help people avoid taxation. What do you think?

I would not, however, recommend expanding this to Twitter. Those people will hashtag you to death if you touch their wallets. +, wher wld u bgin? We’ve already lost those people to another grammar universe.

So please contact your state representative or senator and tell them you think GRUMPY is a great idea. But if you share this on Facebook, by all means give it three !!! and a :).

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