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Special Reports


1 April 2009

Department of Education To Retire the Semicolon

by C.J. Klempest

At a press conference yesterday, a spokesperson for the Department of Education announced a regulation that will require all agencies of the United States Government discontinue use of the semicolon in official documents. According to the Office of Management and Budget, eliminating the semicolon will save the government $1.2 million over the next four years in ink, paper, secretarial and proofreading costs. "Nobody knows how to use the darn thing anyway," said Assistant Undersecretary for Punctuation Agnes Penn Stickney, "and it's taking up perfectly good space in the home row of the nation's keyboards." The new regulation was promulgated after just three weeks of study. "The President tasked us to find innovative ways to shrink government," said Stickney "and so we turned to the American people. We solicited proposals from writers and other members of the punctuation community." The winning proposal was submitted by Cory Doctorow, a noted futurist and science fiction writer. "His idea," Stickney said "is very clever, actually. He wants to move the @ sign down from its awkward position above the '2' on the keyboard and install it in the space vacated by the obsolete semicolon." Stickney hopes that the new Education Department initiative will be quickly embraced by the private sector.

Secretary Stickney had no comment on rumors that the writer Cory Doctorow is a Canadian.

The announcement was greeted with outrage by some conservative commentators. "This is yet another example of the creeping socialism that pervades the Obama Administration," said pundit Rush Limbaugh, reacting to the announcement on his radio program. "George Washington used forty-seven semicolons in the Declaration of Independence. If the semicolon was good enough for the Founding Fathers, it's good enough for me."

In a related note, Undersecretary Stickney announced that the name of the "period" was being changed to the "dot."

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