Courtesy and Capitalization
Someone (okay, okay, it was Bill Poser) let stodgy prescriptivism out into Language Log:
Capitalization is part of the social convention for writing English. Like the alphabet, it isn’t something that the writing system makes available for manipulation by individual users.
Ah, uh, er? I manipulate standard capitalization ALL THE TIME. Alphåbets, too, but that’s only to be silly; nonstandard capitalization serves a variety of legitimate purposes. If it’s not YELLING or Sniffing Distinction, it’s a sort of facetious code-switching into sCriPt KiDd1e or eXtreme Marketing iDroid. Decry Apple’s branding strategy all you want, it should be clear that capitalization is mutable in a way that alphabets and word order are not.
Responding to, say, bell hooks’s argument against the orthographic standard with a snippy insistence that individuals simply must adhere to the conventions… isn’t that a breach of a linguist’s professional ethics? In any case, Wolfangel is quite right, it’s a discourtesy.
And for the record: Here on the Internets I usually sign my name in lowercase out of pure typographical whimsy. I certainly don’t care if you wish to capitalize it.