A Poorly Constructed Sentence

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Maybe I just feel curmudgeonly today. You can decipher the sentence, maybe, but it takes a while to figure out what’s wrong with it. Here’s the sentence:

Frank Pallone Jr., the chairman of the committee hosting the hearing, said he wants to explore changes to Section 230, the decades-old law that shield tech companies from lawsuits over posts, videos and photos that people share on their platforms. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/25/technology-202-tech-ceos-are-returning-hill-virtually-heres-what-watch/ (below the first ad)

“Shield” should jump right out at you as incorrect: it should be “shields,” to go with “decades-old law,” right? So why did a professional writer (and editor, I presume) use the plural, “shield”? I think to go with the plural “changes” in the second line. But “the decades-old law” interferes! Especially since we see only one comma, which separates that plural verb (shield) from the plural (changes) and puts it with the closer singular (law). But putting a comma after “law” makes the sentence sound awkward. (The rule is that two commas count as zero commas.) And what if the intention was to use “shields,” which changes the meaning of the whole sentence!

A bad sentence no matter what you do to it. How would you fix this?

Here’s my solution:

Frank Pallone Jr., the chairman of the committee hosting the hearing, said he wants to explore making some changes to Section 230 to shield tech companies from lawsuits over posts, videos, and photos that people share on their platforms. The law is decades old.

Maybe the sentence means the opposite:

Frank Pallone Jr., the chairman of the committee hosting the hearing, said he wants to explore making some changes to Section 230 because it shields tech companies from lawsuits over posts, videos, and photos that people share on their platforms. The law is decades old.

Make the reference to the age of the section into a separate sentence.

Here’s a picture of the CEOs scheduled for the hearing. I don’t have a shot of Mr. Pallone.:

from the article

PS—I fixed the missing oxford comma, too. Did you notice?

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