420 chars #2

Although this is my second post in this genre, it was really my first act of rebellion against Facebook’s 420-character status limitation — coincidentally, on Independence Day (although, come to think of it, this is an act of submission, isn’t it?) 417 characters:

235 years ago, to give themselves a republic and the right, on paper at least, to a list of freedoms including speech, some rebels signed a document that could get them all hanged. When you speak your mind fearing reproach as little as they feared for their lives, you honor them and the sacrifices of the fighters and free speakers who came before you. You, and not the one who tries to shut you up, are the patriot.

© 2011 Greg Bryant under the Creative Commons

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About Greg Bryant

I teach writing and literature at Highland Community College in northeast Kansas.
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4 Responses to 420 chars #2

  1. bryon says:

    I agree with this completely.
    What’s interesting in terms of 420 chars is you can’t achieve that brevity here unless you break the common style rule against starting a sentence with numerals. Spelling out that opening number would put you over the character limit. As character counts become more important, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that style rule gradually relaxed in print, too, just because no one will feel like enforcing it. I don’t think that will cause the downfall of the republic. Really, as newspapers have always wanted to save space and have eliminated commas, fer pete’s sake, to achieve that, I’m a little surprised in thinking about it that numerals haven’t always been a tool to cut down on column inch use.

    • Greg Bryant says:

      Yeah, me too.

      Nineteen-seventy-two was my first year living away from my parents, and in 1975 I got married.

      That looks silly to me. Of course I could say “In 1972 I first lived…” but that’s silly too — to alter your syntax and style to meet such a mechanical requirement. The spelled-out numeral just seems awkward, and certainly harder to read than the numeral.

  2. Cletis says:

    I’ll just copy and paste all of your musings on this and each of your chars so far. Actually, why don’t we (You, Bryon, Doc, and moi) exach write two for a week from Sunday?

    Do spaces count? They do in Twitter and they allow 140 chars. Does this fit your (Facebook) criteria? My first attempt.

    Young men brutally murdered. Left in pieces on the soil of an ancient land. Was there pain? Was there blood? Were there flies? Flies buzz the dead you know. Your son okay? Your daughter? Still recovering from that graduation bash? Looking forward to a summer by the pool? Will it be Morehead, Eastern, or the University of Kentucky this fall? So much excitement. So many options.

    • Greg Bryant says:

      Yes, spaces count. Looks like yours cleared the limit with 30 chars to spare! That’s a painfully ironic meditation, sweeping the reader with alarming grace from the horror of war to the lazy quandaries of life in a gated community.

      I assume the two I’ve already written can be my contributions.

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