I know my column title is grammatically incorrect. I’ve received emails about it, people have commented on my columns about it. It even was brought up in a recent review of The Post.
“It’s supposed to be ‘Words I Might Have Eaten,’” they say.
I know that.
I worked on four Post staffs my freshman year: news, opinion, copy and social media. But the one I ended up falling in love with was opinion. It felt so good to argue with an invisible presence, trying to disprove their point every time.
My first column was about Green Day and sell-outs in punk music. I didn’t (and still don’t) like the bad rap the band had been given. Its early music was punk, no matter how far it strayed from the genre as the band got more popular.
And with that column, I needed to think of a column title. I knew some people would defensively react to my column; real punks don’t listen to Green Day, and they certainly don’t claim the band to be punk.
Green Day’s second full release, Kerplunk!, released in 1992, remains the truest punk music the band ever produced. And on that very punk album is the song from which I got my column name: “Words I Might Have Ate.” It is not just a nod to those who doubt Green Day could ever be considered punk; it’s also a reference to the band who began my college writing career.
But my column title is more than just an old reference. It means that although I am publishing my words, I still am unsure about them. Opinion columns have the ability to push people to reaction, whether positive or negative. I’m willing to publish my words, and I am also willing to own up to them.
Opinion columns are about being straightforward to change someone’s mind. We are wrong sometimes. But we eat those words and continue writing, because we still believe we can change public opinion.
Words I Might Have Ate is more than just a grammatically incorrect title. It is the foundation on which I built my column, and it will continue to represent everything I believe to be true about opinion writing. With every column I publish, I am just eating my own words.
Shelby Campbell is a junior studying strategic communication at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Shelby know by tweeting her @bloodbuzzohioan.