Laying down the law

It’s OK when he says it.

I was just following a news report about some of the more ridiculous messages that went out on Twitter at the time of the January 6 riots when I saw one by a Republican congressman from South Carolina named Ralph Norman hysterically calling for Donald Trump to invoke “Marshall Law.”

I don’t want to play gotcha! with someone’s spelling on Twitter, but I was a little surprised that the commentator I was listening to admitted that they had to check to make sure “Marshall Law” was, in fact, wrong. Though I suppose it is an easy enough mistake to make. Just last month I reviewed Caroline Moorehead’s Mussolini’s Daughter, where the Badoglio government that came in after ousting Mussolini is said to have proclaimed “marshal law.” Even I had to wonder if this was a slip or intentional. Technically, Badoglio had held the rank of marshal in the Italian army before becoming prime minister. So did Moorehead make a mistake, or was saying marshal law a joke? I’m still not sure, but I think it was a slip that the editors didn’t catch.

There was also a comic book character named Marshal Law, created in the 1980s by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill. I don’t know if it’s still going. And in 1996 there was a TV movie called Marshal Law about a tough U.S. Marshal played by Jimmy Smits. This kind of thing probably confuses people.

Just to be clear though: it’s martial law.


7 thoughts on “Laying down the law

  1. I get it, but the grammar rules are different for texts and messaging, and I can see autocorrect playing a role. The messaging seems to be that ‘these dolts can’t even spell’ but that rather misses the point; that these elected representatives were willing to abuse their position. At some point, this will have to be taken seriously, but right now, many of those involved are skating…


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