"If I see a correct semicolon, that makes my day! They’re so useful!"
Um, dude: If they were so useful, sightings wouldn't be so rare.
As I mention in my new book, I'm an antisemicolonite. In-the-trenches copy editing can do that to a person. Once you've seen enough writers composing ridiculously long and awkward sentences solely to create opportunities to show off their semicolon prowess, you see how semicolons can do more harm than good.
Stan makes some great counterpoints to the English-is-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket coalition. But, to me, the most striking thing about their mentality is this: The Chicken Littles bemoaning the decline of English never seem concerned that, if there is evidence that English is in decline, that could be a sign that education is in decline across every discipline.
Increased ignorance about "affect" and "effect" is, to me, much less alarming than a decline in the number of students qualified to become engineers, physicists and mathematicians. Yes, these skills may go hand-in-hand with language learning. But that's the point: If they do, why are the Chicken Littles concerned only about the language part?
By emphasizing only language and by failing to put alleged language skills declines into context with possible declines in math, science and history, the English alarmists tip their hand. They're not about concern. They're about control.