From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
Little Johnny Stories VII
Little Johnny learned in the College of Hard Knocks the value of the passive voice, an especially important component in the bag of tricks of any guilt-prone kid particularly one in a Catholic school. He’s playing in a pick-up basetball game in the yard after school when he hits a home run – a tremendous blast, over the fence and, unfortunately, through one of the windows of the nuns’ convent. So he goes to the convent, and when Sister Superior answers the door he says the following: “Sister, I’ve come to ask for our baseball back. You see, one of your windows happened to get broken by a ball that was hit by a bat that happened to be in my hands when the bat was swung on the arrival of a beautiful pitch right down the middle.” When Sister Superior is finished translating all that, one of her many reactions will no doubt be a renewed appreciation for the deadening power of convoluted sentences full to the brim with the passive voice.
Johnny is picking up some valuable lifeskills!