The Serial Comma
Erick Erickson points us to Professor Bainbridge. The professor excerpts one of Andrew Sullivan's periodic "Can I be a conservative too?" pleas. In the plea, Sullivan sticks to his habit of omitting the comma before the "and" in a mention of several, the serial comma. Brainbridge asks, "Fair enough, but wouldn't a real conservative have used the good old serial comma?
It's in the media's stylebooks, and Sullivan is a creature of the media. Erick sees its omission as "trendy," and I'll add that it looks awfully sloppy, something which belongs at the SLATE or SALON kids' sites but not somewhere which wants to be seen as authoritative.
Poetic license is for the poets. Proper punctuation is for the grammatical conservatives.
Amen, Brother Mark. The serial comma is a useful tool dropped by the trendsetters who have sought to abandon established grammar for simplicity, style, and no substance.
Abandoning the serial comma is as terrible as abandoning the capitalization of president when refering to the President of the United States.