What's weirder, these gross warthog winter squash or the scare quotes around "organic" in this sign from a booth at the S.F. Ferry Plaza Farmers Market? Those Ferry Plaza folks are hard to read. Can produce be ironically organic? Are we witnessing the birth of hipster produce? Or is this a commentary meant to shake up our consumer consciousness--just because the sign says so doesn't mean it's really organic so you should do your homework and follow up before purchasing. Or perhaps "organic" is making a statement about naturalness of form, and while these squash may have sprung from the loins of Mother Earth without chemical aid, their mutant bubbles make them monstrosities, unnatural beings, and hence destined to be "organic" only in quotes, lonely freaks caught between worlds.
What are scare quotes, you ask? According to the Chicago Manual of Style:
Quotation marks are often used to alert readers that a term is used in a nonstandard, ironic, or other special sense. Nicknamed "scare quotes," they imply, "This is not my term" or "This is not how the term is usually applied." Like any such device, scare quotes lose their force and irritate readers if overused. (7.58)For lots of fun with intentional misinterpretations of unintentional scare quotes, see The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotes.