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“‘(SIC) [sic]'”

NBC ran a bit on the news last night about UPS catching heat for failing to deliver everything in time for Christmas. They quoted Bruce the mailman noting he’s been working fourteen hours a day for a month straight, couldn’t get to see his kids or go Christmas shopping with his wife.

But on Bruce’s Facebook page, from which NBC made the quotation, the man misspelled straight and oddly capitalized it. Rather than just correct the man’s spelling to make the quote less turbulent for the viewers and avoid making this UPS driver and mailpeople of the world look less dumb, NBC Nightly News, the Today Show and their website went with “…for a month Strait (SIC).”

First of all, dipshits (I’m addressing NBC now), the letters comprising sic don’t stand for anything individually: It’s not an acronym, it comes from the Latin word sic, so you don’t capitalize it — though you could italicize it if you’re into that. Also, you use brackets, not parentheses. When quoting someone, either use zero quotation marks or two, you want to avoid odd numbers. And many people don’t know immediately what it means, so it reads to many viewers like this guy is misspelling not one but two words in a row with bad punctuation. “Hey, it’s on his twitter, maybe SIC is the latest abbreviation like SMH and IDK,” they think.

You made him look worse, you made the quotation confusing and to top it off you made your own mistakes in the process, but inside his quotation marks. You’re making multiple mistakes in identifying that another mistake wasn’t your mistake, which even if you did it mistake-free you were still mistaken in doing it at all. Basically.

Secondly, instead of helping anything by saying “Don’t look at us, it’s the mailman who cannot spell, we’re just quoting him,” it hurts the segment and the man. People don’t digest his heartfelt remark enough because they’re suddenly picturing his little kids watching TV asking Mommy why Daddy misspelled something on national television. Or viewers may take tangential reflections on the pointlessness of English having so many silent letters in the first place, distracting themselves from the strain his job is exerting on his family. Poor guy might just be a fan of Dire Straits and got confused due to the pressure of the job or it was an autocorrect mishap. Or maybe this is the reason he didn’t become a writer. I’m going with autocorrect.

I doubt he would sue you for defamation or libel for quietly correcting his English. There is no historic record of NBC transcripts that must be preserved perfectly and fossilized for posterity lest future civilizations not fully understand who we were as a society and to learn what mistakes we made that they mustn’t repeat. There obviously is no possible alternate and intended meaning in his misspelling the word that would be lost were you simply to correct it for him before airing it, which would have also taken less time, unless you think you’re doing the workingman a favor by making him look uneducated. Another option is not to put the quote on the screen and instead just recite it, or not to use it at all, or paraphrase it.

I could understand your doing that to Bush and Ted Cruz, but not the mailman. What did he do to you. C’mon, NBC. Also, don’t forget to tip your mailmen (a monetary tip, not grammatical). That’s it I’m done.

Doug Simmons

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