With all the talk of bullying in schools, I was surprised to read a Page 1 headline in the June 14 Point Reyes Light that said that none of the bullying laws attempts to make students more compassionate: “No bullying law aims to bring compassion into schools.”

For the record, the unintended double entendre was the result of leaving out a grammatically required hyphen. The correct usage would be: “No-bullying law aims…” When two or more words before a noun add up to an adjective modifying the noun, they should be hyphenated. We write a “well-stocked refrigerator” but not “the refrigerator is well-stocked” because in the latter case “well stocked” follows the noun.

There is one exception to this rule. When one of the words describing the noun to follow is an adverb ending in ly, it is not hyphenated. In other words, we do not write a “nearly-naked damsel” although we do write an “almost-naked damsel.”

The Columbia Journalism Review has helped produce two books of newspaper gaffes, most of which are far more noteworthy than The Light’s. Both books are available online. The first is called Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim (1980). It takes its title from a headline in the Herald Independent in Wisconsin. A hyphen between dog and bite, by the way, would have eliminated the confusion. Of course, not all garbled journalese results from hyphenation errors.

Not only is the caption enigmatic, the word should be “bales,” not “bails.”

Here are other examples from the book. Sometimes it takes awhile to figure out what the headline writer or copy editor was really trying to say. A headline from The Washington Post: “All Utah Condemned to Face Firing Squad.” Or from the Eugene, Oregon, Register-Guard: “Prostitutes appeal to Pope.”

Another case of cannibalism? A headline in The Washington Post: “Chester Morrill, 92, was Fed Secretary.” From the Norwich Bulletin: Marital Duties to Replace Borough Affairs for Harold Zipkin.” From the Atlanta Journal: “Connie Tied, Nude Policeman Testifies.”

From The Hartford Courant: “Rosemary Hall Gets New Head.” From The Tampa Tribune: “City May Impose Mandatory Time for Prostitution.” Or from The Charlotte Observer: “Police Kill Man With Ax.” And from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “Tuna Biting Off Washington Coast.”

From the Daily Sun/Post in San Clemente: “Cold Wave Linked To Temperatures.” A paragraph from the Metropolis (Illinois) Planet: “Owners of all dogs in the city of Metropolis are required to be on a chain or in a fenced-in area.” From The News in Groton, Connecticut: “Police union to seek blinding arbitration.”

From The Cumberland (Maryland) News: “New Orleans To Get Force of 50 State ‘Supersops.'” Probably to stagger around the French Quarter. And from The Missourian: “Less Mishaps Than Expected Mar Holiday.” Or how ’bout this from the Chicago Daily News? “Woman better after being thrown from high-rise.”

From The (Gainesville) Times: “Missionary risked dysentery and bigamy in eight-day trip to Nigerian villages.” Say what? (Any reader who can decipher this one is urged to send in a comment.)

In the words of singer Rod Stewart, “Every picture tells a story, don’t it?”

From The Lethbridge (Alberta) Herald: “Drunk gets nine months in violin case.” A headline in the Gainsville (Florida) Sun: “Nationwide Heroine Crackdown Includes Arrest of Three Here.” And from the Williamsport (Pennsylvania) Sun-Gazette: “Doe Season Start Called Success; Four Hunters Stricken in Woods.”

From the Yakima (Washington) Herald Republic: “Accused pair of wire cutters arraigned.” While from the upstate Seattle Times: “Bar trying to help alcoholic lawyers.” And from The Arizona Republic: “Scientists are at loss due to brain-eating amoeba.”

From The Contra Costa Times: “Greeks Fine Hookers.” Oh, are they? But never on Sunday. From the Detroit Free Press: “Police Can’t Stop Gambling.” And from the Fort Worth Tribune: “He Found God At End of His Rope.”

From the Buffalo Courier-Express: “Child’s Stool Great For Use in Garden.” And from the Tonawanda (New York) News Frontier: “Teen-age prostitution problem is mounting.” Announcement in the Vermonter: “AN ITALIAN SINNER will be served at 5:30 p.m. at the Essex Center United Methodist Church.”

From the Detroit Free Press: “Milk Drinkers Turn to Powder.” And from The (Ottawa) Citizen: “People should evacuate when gas odor present.” Another scatalogical double entendre, this one from the Lewiston (Idaho) Morning Tribune: “Columnist gets urologist in trouble with his peers.”

The second book of newspaper gaffes collected by the Columbia Journalism Review is called Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge (1987). The book takes its title from a headline in the Milford (Connecticut) Citizen. From The Toronto Star: “His humming rear end is a major distraction.” From The Guardian in England: “British left waffles on Falklands.”

And from The (Kitchener, Ontario) Record: “Woman off to jail for sex with boys.” A horrible double entendre from the Reading (Pennsylvania) Eagle: “How You Can Lick Doberman’s Leg Sores.”

A headline from our own San Francisco Chronicle: “Residents were shocked each time their neighbors went on a murder spree.” And this from The Alabama Journal: “Blind Woman Gets New Kidney From Dad She Hasn’t Seen In Years.”

No wonder one of the Urban Dictionary’s definitions for double entendre is: “a word or phrase that has a double meaning, with one of the meanings usually naughty or rude.”