Obfuscation or planned confusion?

So, I’m reading the New York Times over the weekend and I hit upon a sentence that causes me to vigorously shake my head to clear out the cob webs. I read it again and again and still couldn’t wend my way though it’s mash-up of double and triple negatives. Here it is:
 
“…he opposes (first negative) a ban (second negative) only if it failed (third) to include an exception (fourth) to protect the life of the mother.”
 
When they write this stuff, are they smiling?
 
This type of obtusion (Is that a word? It should be.) is what keeps people from reading. Have you ever, I mean ever, read a user license agreement on a Web site?  Or read a prospectus?  How about an annual report financial section?  Is obfuscation a cottage industry? (Tax preparation, is no doubt a billion dollar business.)
 
I’m not for dumbing down the written word, or journalists writing to a 6th grade reading level, but come on people. Can’t we all just try to communicate a little better?  

Tags: ,