“Spending a great amount of time in prison has stripped him of his freedom.”

Another sentence that takes up at least a line of type to express the obvious. This is another example from the “rape” case I’ve written about before, where an innocent man sat in prison for eight years because a teenager selected him at random from a mug book and accused him of a rape that had never taken place.

All my students were indignant about what she had done and how grievously his life had been ruined, and I suspect some of that indignation can be blamed for the inept statements in their essays. Blinded by passion, they wrote from their hearts and never revisited their drafts by means of their heads. They were more angry that he had been deprived of freedom for eight years than that he would find his life forever straitened by a criminal record for rape, and their inarticulate sentences about freedom reflected their feeling of impotent rage.

This situation, being nonplussed by a fact, unable to put our outrage or astonishment or indignation into words, is common to us all. We may not vent this outrage in self-defining or self-evident statements, but I have noticed how often we take the time to say with great emphasis something utterly obvious—indeed, how often we say it not once, but over and over, or pass the statement from one mouth to the next as if each time it’s said it’s new and the more often it’s said the deeper it is.

I never really blame myself, so I suppose it isn’t fair to blame my students. Nice, at least, that they can get so angry they can’t think or speak straight.

Still, I find this sentence funny—funnier, I’m sure, than the poor chump in the case found his sentence.

Apologies for the pun!


About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

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