The other day, I received an e-mail from a a woman who works for a local bank. She was concerned because one of my clients had taken to writing threatening e-mails to the bank, stating that the bank held no valid mortgages, that by accepting payment from the client, they were committing fraud, and demanding documents that (quite frankly) don’t exist.
It’s interesting to note that this bank is the creditor that I have sued more times than any other creditor for artificially pumping up appraisal values in order to give out home equity loans to homeowners who are already underwater with their first mortgage. Why is that interesting? I’ll get to that in a minute.
The banker asked me to investigate and reach out to my client to figure out what was wrong. And so I did. My client responded with two lengthy e-mails and two forms (eight pages in total) attached that I had to parse through.
Apparently, my client had been targeted by a group that I am going to refer to as “PT76”. There isn’t a whole lot of information (and even less reputable information) available on this group. But from what I could gather, this is an ultra-nationalist, quasi-anarchist, anti-corporate organization. That’s the polite version. A more apt description would be an ultra-radical gang of tinfoil hat wearing thugs.
The forms were nothing more than gibberish. Someone strung together a long mess of legal-sounding words in the apparent hope of sounding smart, tough, and ultimately – legitimate. It’s not even fair for me to say that they were misstating the law. More accurately,they weren’t saying much of anything. Their intent appears to be to incite and rile up victimized American consumers.
Here’s the crazy part. I *should* be with these people. Anti big bank? Hell yeah! I’ve been working in bankruptcy too long not to have developed a vitriolic hatred for the big banks. Pro government reform? Absolutely! I’m tired of listening to Congressmen behave like spoiled brats on a school playground.
That forced me intro a little Cartesian bout with existentialism. For those of you who haven’t had a class in Philosophy, think: Matrix. I can only be aware of my own existence. Everything else could be an illusion. So, for all I know – I’m living in a fantasy world, and these people whom I have dubbed ‘tinfoil hat people’ are the only ones with their heads screwed on straight.
But I got over it, and here’s why. My beef with PT76 is NOT that they are stupid or uninformed. I do not think that a person has to be highly educated in order to express an opinion. I do not think that a person must be wealthy enough to hire an attorney to be active in politics or government.
My problem with PT76 is that they are too emotional not to be involved, but also too lazy to be involved properly. It’s one thing to be stupid. It’s quite another thing to be stupid, but try to pretend that you’re smart. When you string a bunch of nonsensical and incoherent legalese together in order to feign legitimacy, intelligence, and strength, then you are no better than the ‘bank cartels’ you claim to be rising up against. How can you call the bank’s conduct fraud when you yourself are engaged in fraud?
One of the dead giveaways that PT76 is a group of morons were the forms they supplied to my client. A fifth grader could have composed better forms.
Cell phones and Twitter have been the biggest enemies of literacy – forcing people to abandon years of formal English training in favor of absurdly long acronyms and abbreviations. People have a tendency to mock those of us who are sticklers for good grammar and spelling. Some might call me a literary snob. You know what? I am.
You could argue that presentation is’superficial’ and unimportant relative to the content of the words. But I disagree. The use of good grammar and style – particularly in this case -had a much bigger impact on the forms presented by PT76 than the words did(which were meaningless drivel).
The forms offered by PT76 were riddled with misspelled words, poor grammar, faulty capitalization, faulty punctuation, poor spacing, poor alignment, and poor formatting. Anyone who was educated enough to speak intelligently enough about the laws that PT76 was referring to would have had the basic composition skills necessary to churn out a decently formatted document.
Does that mean that all properly formatted documents are legitimate? Of course not.
Does that mean that a document with a single type-o is not legitimate? Of course not.
A document that reads like it was prepared by a fifth grader is, however, pretty indicative that its content is equally specious.
Grammar and style are important. Using words properly goes a long way at effectively communicating your ideas with other people. But more importantly – people who have to read your poorly-formatted documents will become fatigued when they have to spend half their energy trying to translate your poor grammar into actual English, and they are more likely to disregard what you have to say.