Marriage "Hackers" Change Dictionaries at Bookstores

An organization called Hack Marriage Is Going Around San Francisco and surrepetitiously changing the definition of marriage in dictionaries in bookstores and libraries.

HACKmarriage from Hack Marriage on Vimeo.

The laws, they have changed now.  The dictionaries, on the other hand, they have not.  Given publication times, new dictionaries only come out once per year, often with some befuddled announcement involving whatever new internet meme has become an official word.  It all seems silly.  But when it comes to redefining a word, one that has been long established, odds are the situation is at least a little different.  Especially a word that has now become politically and legally loaded, as is the case with "marriage."  While the legal definition of marriage has changed again in California in the wake of the Perry v. California Supreme Court decision to include same-sex marriage, dictionaries, a stateless aspect of the English language, will likely remain unchanged until next year's edition regarding that particular word.

A couple of same-sex marriage activists in San Francisco, living too deep in the Internet 2.0 era, do not want to wait that long.  Hack Marriage, a small organization, sent out a few hooded members to bookstores and libraries in the city, long a stomping ground for the LGBT community, to fix what they see as an actual semantics problem.  As shown in the video above, they head straight to the dictionaries section, and surreptitiously replacing the marriage definition in each dictionary with a little slip of paper referring to the new legal definition, which includes same-sex marriage.  Given that the majority of dictionaries at this time stick with the original legal definition of "one man, one woman," that's a lot of dictionaries to fix.  I hope they like paper.

The organization has a site which allows other vigilante editors to print up their own stickers with the new definition, and go changing definitions on their own.  A fair reminder, though:  The new legal definition of marriage (i.e., including same-sex marriage) is only credible in 13 countries around the world (soon 14), 12 states in the United States (soon 14), and (soon) England.  And Wales.  One should take that into consideration when editing.  After all, writing a dictionary is a long and meticulous project.

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