Herman Melville was for them; Raymond Chandler was against. Donald Barthelme thought they were ugly as a tick on a dog’s belly. His contemporary, Kurt Vonnegut, called them transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. Yet another commentator, grammar enthusiast James Kilpatrick, attacks them as girly, odious, and the most pusillanimous, sissified, utterly useless mark of punctuation ever invented.
The subject under contention is none other than the lowly semi-colon, which Boston Globe columnist Jan Freeman argues is on the wane in American usage. It’s a useful primer, in the vein of Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots & Leaves, on this long-simmering culture war.