Come on, admit it. You cringe when you see someone use "it's" instead of "its," and it really affects you when effects is used as a verb.
If so, then you understand how Jeff Michael Deck, of Somerville, Massachusetts, and Benjamin Douglas Herson, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, must have felt back on March 28 when they entered the Watchtower at Desert View in Grand Canyon National Park and saw the grammar problems with an (a?) historic sign that tells visitors what to look for in the structure.
Being apostles of the "Typo Eradication Advancement League," Messieurs Deck and Herson, both 28, resorted to black marker and Wite*Out to fix the offending apostrophe and once-absent comma in the first paragraph of the sign, which dated to the 1930s or early 1940s. Unfortunately, it turns out Mr. Deck made the cardinal mistake of chronicling their work on a web site, which came to the attention of National Park Service investigators.
"We do not blame, nor chastise, the authors of these typos. It is natural for mistakes to occur; everybody will slip up now and again. But slowly the once-unassailable foundations of spelling are crumbling, and the time has come for the crisis to be addressed," explains one section of the web site.
Later, in recounting the editing that occurred at the Grand Canyon, Mr. Deck wrote, "A faux Native American watchtower is part of the tourist structure at the Desert View lookout. Benjamin and I climbed it and discovered a hand-rendered sign inside that, I regret to report, had a few errors. I know today was supposed to be my day off from typo-hunting, but if I may be permitted to quote that most revered of android law enforcers, Inspector Gadget: "Always on duty!"
While their grammar lesson might have been delivered, the two were tracked down by NPS investigators, hauled before a federal judge back on August 11, and pleaded guilty to doing the deed. They were ordered to make restitution of $3,035 -- the cost estimated to re-insert the grammar errors -- and banned from entering any national park for one year.
(Editor's note: To learn more of their handiwork and thought process, read the attached criminal complaint.)