Like most of you who have taken classes with teachers who provided grammatical and stylistic critiques of your papers, I was told to avoid the passive voice as much as possible. Yet I was never really completely convinced of the notion. The Greek New Testament is full of passives, I rebutted, and a grammatical active may be a semantic passive (yet these, strangely, never got marked as improper). I just never felt like the case against passives was convincing. It was more of an unquestionable rule of proper writing style.
But not everyone is afraid to question this prevailing notion. I just read a scathing (understatement!) review of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style that addresses the issue of passives, among other things. It was written by Geoffrey K. Pullum, who is the head of linguistics and English language at the University of Edinburgh.