Jay Nordlinger might call this “a little language.” Maybe I’m being too pedantic, but so many people get this wrong, and it drives me nuts. Latest example is from Erik Wemple’s column in today’s Washington Post. He descries David Gregory’s questions to Glenn Greenwald as the equivalent of the “how long have you been beating your wife” question.

No, no, no. The beating-your-wife question is clever (to the extent that it is) only if it is posed as a yes/no question to which neither answer is acceptable. So, classically, it would be like this: 

Prosecutor to defendant: “Have you stopped beating your wife?”

There, I feel better now.


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