Punctuation and Dilbert

I don’t know if Scott Adams knows why he’s getting extra e-mail about his 4 July 2006 Dilbert, but I do. See, one of his characters told Dilbert that the “insane chick code of ethics” was influencing her behavior. Now, you can be offended by that in lots of ways, but I guarantee that part of the problem is that Adams meant to write “insane-chick code of ethics.” He means “the code of ethics imposed on (or generated by) insane chicks,” not “the code of ethics of all chicks, which is insane.” The second one is what the phrase he wrote unambiguously means. Really. Ask Lynne Truss. Unfortunately, it’s also offensive to more people the way he wrote it. (If nothing else, he’s upset the grammarians.)
And while we’re at it, note that those are descriptions of what the phrases mean. I’m not taking a position on the ethics of insane chicks, women, or any permutation thereof here.

This is my current favorite punctuation example.

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