Case 4: The strange case of the intimidating silence

14th December 2001

Filed by: Officer Taylor

The Offence

In an otherwise excellent report on a very serious history of racist intimidation, the Guardian - one of the UK's most respected newspapers - says:

The Najeibs also received several intimidating silent phone calls.

The Verdict

There is no grammatical problem here, but the statement is simply stupid. If the phone-calls were silent, then they could not have been intimidating. How could they be told apart from, for example, encouraging silent phone calls? Or humorous silent phone calls?

The Guardian is plainly guilty of foolishness.

The Sentence

In light of the article's having been written very quickly in response to events that had happened only a few hours previously (the verdict of a long-running trial), we sentence the Guardian to be told not to do it again. See, we in the SAGP can be nice.

Next case!

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