At last! Proof that the Oxford comma is important for avoiding ambiguities! Or, at the very least, that a court in Maine thinks so.
Personally, I’m not going to hate you if you have something against them, but I prefer using Oxford commas. Part of it is probably just a learned behavior (it feels wrong if I don’t), but I also think it’s more practical. Anti-Oxford comma arguments generally assert that if your sentence is ambiguous, you can just rewrite it. And that’s perfectly true. But we’re all human, and we miss things. It’s easy, especially when you have a deadline, not to notice that your sentence could be taken another way. I stand firmly on the side of using the comma as a simple way completely prevent the type of issues discussed in this case. It’s not laziness; it’s certainty.
The only other arguments I’ve heard are saving ink and saving keystrokes. I counter these with:
a) Most communication is digital these days.
b) Ink or clarity? Your call.
c) I type well over 70 words a minute. How much time do you think removing some commas is possibly going to save me? Even the world’s slowest typist isn’t going to see much of a difference from a few commas.
d) Again, clarity or the minuscule effort required for a keystroke?
For today, I’m going to bask ridiculously in the tiny bit of superiority I’ve tangentially acquired thanks to this ruling. Thank you, Maine court system, for giving me a legal precedent to support my favorite ongoing feud. In your face, HKL!