It’s a sad story. As reported by Elisabeth Rosenthal in the New York Times (“When Texting Kills, Britain Offers Path to Prison”, November 2):
OXFORD, England — Inside the imposing British Crown Court here, Phillipa Curtis, 22, and her parents cried as she was remanded for 21 months to a high-security women’s prison, for killing someone much like herself. The victim was Victoria McBryde, an up-and-coming university-trained fashion designer.
Ms. Curtis had plowed her Peugeot into the rear end of Ms. McBride’s neon yellow Fiat, which had broken down on the A40 Motorway, killing Ms. McBryde, 24, instantly.
Curtis was driving while distracted — by the many text messages she was exchanging with friends. A 2008 British government directive treats prolonged texting as a serious aggravating factor in “death by dangerous driving”.
Rosenthal was unable to report this story without the ritual dig at texting and texters:
[The text messages Curtis exchanged] are filled with the mangled spellings and abbreviations that typify the new lingua franca of the young.
Rosenthal cites LOL and an expletive (not specified; this is the NYT, after all), but nothing more.
Language Log has reported many times on characterizations of texting (and electronic communications in general) as evil in various ways. A small sampling of postings: here, here, here. (There’s also a long series of cartoons on texting and so on, mostly about teens).