Bad Prose and Bad Web Design of the Day

My father is a huge fan of Glenn Beck. I am not. I consider myself pretty conservative, and a lot of my friends are mystified at what they see as my right-wing tendencies. But I’ve never understood the appeal of Glenn Beck. My dad actually Tivoed Beck’s last broadcast so that I could watch it with him, and I just couldn’t maintain any interest at all, so I went back to reading a book about autism.

But this post isn’t about Beck, but rather about some of his hapless followers here in Utah. Salt Lake Tribune columnist Paul Rolly wrote yesterday about the strange saga of a “Come to Jerusalem in Utah” rally (in the small town of Jerusalem, Utah) scheduled to coincide with Beck’s “Restoring Courage” in the other Jerusalem. This event was, according to its organizers, a “non-partisan, ecumenical, festival of sun, fun, and food.” Rolly notes that the Utah group originally claimed to have booked big-name speakers, such as Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, all three of Utah’s Congressmen, Governor Gary Herbert, and an “unspecified LDS official,” along with a rabbi to be named at a later date. Of course, none of these people had any idea that such an event was being planned. Furthermore, the town of Jerusalem, Utah, had not heard of the event.

In response, the organizers (I’m using that term loosely) responded with what Rolly calls an “unsigned diatribe” against him. So, I went over to the web site (Come2Jerusalem.inUtah.tv) and checked it out.

Oh, boy.

First of all, the layout is beyond amateur, it’s downright awful, almost as if someone intentionally designed it so as not to be usable. There are three vertical panels that make up the page: white down the middle, with yellow down the sides and around the top and bottom margins. Perhaps they think the yellow makes the white stand out.

The headlines at the top of the screen are small, in three colors (blue, red, and green), randomly capitalized (Utah is even all-caps with an exclamation point thrown in for good measure), and betray the writer’s glancing familiarity with grammar. From there, we get a carat (>) symbol. Why? Well, why not?

Then comes a homemade-looking logo for the event. The top two-thirds of the logo is a jaundiced sort of tan color, with badly pixelated text (“Utah Stands With Israel”) in what looks like an attempt at a slightly lighter shade of the same diseased tan color. Below the tan is a white section covering about one-fourth of the logo, followed by a bright “royal” blue colored bar bearing the site’s web address in white. Superimposed over the middle of the logo are, from left to right, the seal of the state of Utah, the snake illustration from the Gadsden flag (though the snake has been stretched wide by the “designer” and tinted blue), and a Star of David in blue. Note that none of the shades of blue match each other. At the very bottom of the logo are the words “FORTRESSES OF COURAGE” in a red font designed to look like bricks (where the hell did they find that?).

Moving on, we find a thick blue rule spanning the white panel, followed by blue text in what looks to be Times New Roman. I could spend time picking apart the grammar, but that would be too easy. What I love the most about these paragraphs is the attempt to create common ground between Utah and Israel. First of all, we are told of Glenn Beck’s planned even in “Jerusalem, there” and the corresponding event “here, in Utah.” Apparently someone thought readers might confuse the two.

The next sentence is a thing of beauty: “We in Utah, know what it is to have a pioneer history of being driven hither under penalty of death, into a land that, like Israel, has from its inception been a Fortress of Courage.” Leaving aside the surplus of commas and the overblown diction (“hither under penalty of death”), I ask myself how the pioneer experience of our Mormon ancestors relates at all to the Holocaust and the formation of Israel. Last I checked, millions of Jews were killed by the Nazis, and to this day Israel is under repeated attack from its neighbors. Inflating the experience of our ancestors (which was deplorable, obviously) to the level of the Holocaust crassly cheapens both peoples.

Here we come to the heart of the matter. Paul Rolly seems to have pissed these folks off more than a little. A large white text box bordered by a thick blue line contains the “unsigned diatribe” against “gossip mongerer” [sic] Paul Rolly in a large, black, sans-serif font. And “diatribe” is a good description. In the blue border, we read “Jerusalem Stumbles. When Will They Learn?” I honestly have no idea what that is supposed to mean.

In the big text box, the writer says that Rolly “caused a small kerfuffle” by publishing “outright lies” about the event. (One wonders what kind of response a large kerfuffle would have provoked.) The writer then speaks of the moral and financial value of the event, which is compared to Woodstock, and spends a few paragraphs tediously describing the minute details of the event planning (again, in poor grammar).

Here’s a representative sentence:

Through the auspices of the non-profit corporation leading the structural planning of the event, Come2Jerusalem.inUtah.tv, influenced by the old Boy Scout admonition of leave an area better than found, consideration to improve the bleachers of the Moroni Civic Arena were planned and networking to leave the arena with permanent lighting fixtures was contemplated.

I, for one, am happy to hear that consideration was contemplated.

The writer then discusses the Moroni City Council’s actions, which essentially ruined the original plans, and concludes:

My personal belief is that the individual [the Moroni City Council member] is a misogynist, anti-Semite, whose rabid hatred blinds him to the larger benefits that would accrue. … Members of the organizing committee have prayed and fasted to seek direction of how to meet the obstruction of one craven individual exercising unrighteous dominion. Those organizers present at Tuesday night’s planning session can bear testimony that the Spirit was greatly moving among us as we sought His guidance.

Yep, that sounds awfully ecumenical, doesn’t it? I think my favorite bit is this:

The obstruction by the one is known to many in the planned community and County. While the organizing entity reserves the right to seek redress for violation of our civil rights in the courts of this realm, given the nature and theme of the event, we will leave it to Him to smite His foes. If those individuals with knowledge and authority to rein in the unrighteous do not, have not, they share in the smiting that will be poured out.

We are advised to “stay tuned. Stay prayerful.” God will work things out. Ironically, He appears to have found a solution for them, but they’ve hidden it in tiny red and white print (with italics, even) in the blue border along the bottom of the text box. Unless you’re looking for it, you won’t see that they’ve moved the event to West Valley City, a suburb of Salt Lake City, where clearly the city council is more in tune with the Spirit and less smite-worthy.

I would love to know what happened at this event, but I don’t know anyone who would would have attended. Even my dad wouldn’t have bothered.

Advertisements

2 Responses to Bad Prose and Bad Web Design of the Day

  1. Diane Sower says:

    You didn’t do your dad well by positioning him with Beck, who’s known in intellectual circles to be rather daft. And he routinely spouts anti book of mormon doctrine in his social justice diatribes, which proves to me that he never read the damn book in the very beginning. I should think your dad would have at least picked up on that one. Hatch would do well to distance himself from Beck, since people even in the mormon community are picking up on it. Mormons need to use their brains a little bit more than they do. Neither Beck nor Limbaugh ever made it through college. Not saying you need to, but someone with their power and influence really should have that paper behind them.

  2. ff42 says:

    At the source code for http://come2jerusalem.inutah.tv/ is a link to http://www.votermilitia.org/ and on that page is http://www.votermilitia.org/receipts/r20110808.png which is a scan of a business license issued to “Ann R. Ford” in West Jordan. Google search returned http://heritagetrainingcenter.com (which is no under construction, but pages – additional rants – are google cached).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: