The Scripps National Spelling Bee is one of the nation's most-time honored and consistently beloved academic competitions (just check out how favorably the 2002 documentary "Spellbound
" was scored by critics), but it is not without its detractors.
Case-in-point, with the 83rd annual competition
underway today in the nation's capital, opponents to the event have emerged in, well ... if not full force, full fours
(terrible, we know, we know).
That's right: On Thursday, a four-person squad representing various orthographic organizations
peacefully protested outside the Grand Hyatt Washington, where the contest is being held, in yellow-and-black bee costumes.
But precisely what was their problem? The stress placed on the young competitors? Nope.
The hyper-commercialization of the event (it is now shown live on ESPN
, among other channels)? Nope.
The fact that the only hard copy of the official word list
isn't even known to the event's official "pronouncer," former winner Jacques Bailly? No, again.
In fact, upon learning the protesters' comments, it turns out that the true object of their ire is not really the Spelling Bee, but the English language itself. They want the official spelling and grammar rules to be revised to reflect phonetic pronunciations. For instance, The Associated Press
reports that they handed out pins with the words "Enuf is Enuf. Enough is too much."
One protester and member of The Spelling Society told local news channel WUSA-9
that current spelling rules should be changed. "The few rules we have, have loads of exceptions," Timothy Travis said. "One of the major rules for English spelling, is I before E except after C, but weird is an exception for that."
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