Celebrate National Punctuation Day by publicly shaming trolls

Punctuation marks made of jigsaw puzzle pieces. (Horia Varlan/Flickr)

Punctuation marks made of jigsaw puzzle pieces. (Horia Varlan/Flickr)

Whether by postcard or by internet forum, comments on JTA can sometimes get out of control. Take this example from the 1934 Jewish Daily Bulletin:

Of late we have received frequent communications from an unsigned person who writes on the back of a postcard. His notes, in fancy European script, are mailed from the Grand Central Annex sub-station, and they embrace terse criticisms of the Jews.

Appreciative as we are of the heartbreak incurred when manuscripts are returned from hardboiled editors, or even, worse, never again hearing from or seeing in print a brain child, we herewith submit his latest communication:

“Thank God, that Austria (the land where I was born) is savet from that devilish, Jewish, hydra-head. Dollfuss, is a little gread Man, just, Nopolion, was, a little gread Man. Christians, of America, wake ob, till it is to late.”

What’s a newsroom to do 60 years before the advent of a one-click “Spam” button? In this case, JTA decided to respond in-kind:

Aside from the profundity of thought in the above communication, we would like to consider the literary merit of the work. So that the writer will not think we are putting on airs (after all, we are brothers in the writing game) we reply in his own language:

“Austria, (the Land where you was born) neads you, if it, is going too, be savet. Austria (the Land where you was born) neads al, little, gread Men. Why, dont, you, go, back and, bring all little gread, Men of America with, you, to Austria (the Land where you was born). Then Austria, could, be savet from that devilish, Jewish, hydrahead. Just, Nopolion, was, a little gread Man, Pelley, a little gread Man to. Gulden, and, Christians also is, little gread Men. Wake ob all you, dopes, go back too Austria (the Land where you was born) till it is to late.

“Yor spelling is little, bit, wrong, but yor punctuation is gread. There is more, punctuation, then anybody could, hobo too having.”

In a win for punctuation, I recently was emailed a letter replete with complete sentences and proper spelling. Alas, it was a six-page, single-spaced hard-to-follow missive about Lindsay Lohan addressed to the following recipients, et al:

Binyamin Netanyahu and Sir Evelyn de Rothschild
Bar Rafaeli c/o David de Rothschild
Ayatollah Khamenei
World Jewish Organizations and Queen Elizabeth

Adam Soclof is JTA’s Associate Director of Outreach and Partnerships and coordinates presentations and advertising/marketing opportunities for the news agency. A digital archives enthusiast, Adam has authored more than 300 blog posts for The JTA Archive Blog and was responsible for its social media presence and weekly newsletter, This Week in Jewish History. Adam has presented at several conferences in the form of game shows, interactive social media campaigns and Powerpoint presentations. Follow him on Twitter: @hypersem