I wrote something the other day that was edited by an overzealous Oxford comma-hating editor. Yeah. I don’t care that the AP doesn’t like an Oxford comma. I’m a fan. When you use an Oxford comma, you don’t have problems like this famous book dedication:
To my parents, Ayn Rand and God.
I like the clarity commas provide. There is a book about grammar called Eats, Shoots and Leaves. It is based on this joke:
A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.
‘Why?’ asks the confused, surviving waiter as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
‘I’m a panda,’ he says, at the door. ‘Look it up.’
The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. ‘Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.’
I know I play fast and loose with the rules of grammar, (and taste, and common sense, and…) but well-placed punctuation could save a life.