We had no comment when the newly merged Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks announced that they’d henceforth be known as Protect the Adirondacks! (Editor’s note: the exclamation point is part of the name, not a reflection of how we feel about the name. Maybe we should have put a period after it, I really don’t know.)
We figured—like Panic at the Disco, the band formerly known as Panic! at the Disco—they’d soon come to regret the alarmist and inconvenient punctuation. Whoever edits Protect the Adirondacks!’s (!) publications and Web site would weary of the excitable midsentence stop/ambiguous sentence-ender and raise a gentle protest at a board meeting. The inconsiderate, unnecessary mark would be quietly dropped and the group would get on with the serious work of protecting the Adirondacks.
But no, it’s still there. Earth First! still uses an exclamation point also, and Wham! carried theirs to the 80s pop duo grave. It actually kind of worked for Wham!, which might tell Protect the Adirondacks! something about tone.
So on behalf of copy editors everywhere, here is that gentle plea: please drop the thing. As Strunk and White wrote in Elements of Style:
The exclamation mark is to be reserved for use after true exclamations or commands.
What a wonderful show!