Friday, November 30, 2007

try banning stupid people instead

I was listening to 101.5 FM out of New Jersey yesterday. The DJ was discussing some list of banned words published by the Department of Defense. I made a note to find the list, but have not been successful. I did find, however, extensive references made to a book by Diane Ravitch called, The Language Police, which is a compilation of terms not allowed in textbooks by the various departments of education around the country. I found two sites, here and here that provide excerpts of her glossary. Just remarkable. To be fair, it seems that Diane was appalled herself – she was not advocating banning these terms, just reporting on it.

Some examples …

Adam and Eve (replace with "Eve and Adam," to demonstrate that males do not take priority over females). Really? Is this like an Affirmative Action thing? Will we someday say that “Eve and Adam” demonstrates that females take priority over males, and then revert to “Adam and Eve” for a period of time? How about “the first two people on Earth, one of each gender.” Ah, but there are writings that suggest Adam had a wife before Eve. She must not have wanted to let him masturbate during her menstrual cycle or something (see a couple of posts below).

Boys' night out (banned as sexist). Really? But it is a real thing. Boys do have a night out. I don’t think you ban a concept – that’s dumb. I suggest you just add a corollary for the female counterpart – “Sausage Run.”

Busybody (banned as sexist, demeaning to older women). I find this interesting. Unlike above, there is no gender reference in the term and, further, the basis for banning the term includes an age reference which is also missing from the term. Do we use “interloper”? Do we say, “that crotchety old bag can’t mind her own business” (substituting the male gender and proper age reference as applicable to the precise situation)?

Courageous (banned as patronizing when referring to a person with disabilities). You must be kidding. Can I use the word to describe a soldier that raced into enemy fire to save his fellow soldiers? It’s not the word, just its application to the handicapped (which I am sure is on the list somewhere)? What do I say – your example of living life to the fullest is like the attributes of a lion? Doesn’t it take “courage” to overcome obstacles?

Dialect (banned as ethnocentric; use sparingly). A “dialect” is a variety of a language that is distinguished from other varieties of the same language by features of phonology, grammar, and vocabulary, and by its use by a group of speakers who are set off from others geographically or socially. “Ethnocentrism” is the belief in the inherent superiority of one's own ethnic group or culture. So you are suggesting that if I refer to someone’s speech as being a dialect, I am inherently declaring my superiority. Do y’all sense an asshat close by? When someone speaks the English language poorly, I do not refer to what they say as being indicative of thie “dialect,” rather I refer to them as “grammar retards.” Use of local phrases like “soda” or “pop,” or “sneakers” or “tennies” is not an indication of intelligence, but region from which a person hails. You people are idjits, and give me adjita.

Drunken, Drunkenness (banned as offensive when referring to Native Americans). OK. Won’t use it for Indians. I’ll reserve it for the Irish.

Egghead (banned as offensive; replace with "intellectual"). What?!? You have to declare this? Did you find a textbook with the term “egghead” in it – or are you just sensitive to the childhood beating you took because of the conical shape of your head?

Fairy (banned because it suggests homosexuality; replace with "elf"). But elves ain’t got wings! Damn. Do I have to write, “winged female elf without the usual bull-dyke stocky build”?

God (banned). See you in Hell, or Hades, or that hoax tossed out there by the intelligent-design idiots of an afterlife in perpetual agony because you’re on fire due to your shitty life.

Founding Fathers, the (banned as sexist; replace with "the Founders" or "the Framers"). But they WERE dudes!

Inspirational (banned as patronizing when referring to a person with disabilities). So I can’t say to the guy with two fingers, no intestines, and only half a face that his subsequent career as one of the most moving writers I have ever read is inspirational? WTF?

Little person (banned as offensive; replace with "person of small stature"). Step right up! 3 for a dollar! Toss the person of small stature through the hoop and win a prize!

Lumberjack (banned as sexist; replace with "woodcutter"). But they ain’t cutting wood – they are cutting trees. Treecutter? Or is that a crack against persons with AIDS?

Middle East (banned as reflecting a Eurocentric world view; replace with "Southwest Asia"; may be acceptable, however, as a historical reference). I have no idea with “Southwest Asia.” Is it anywhere near the Middle East? I’m about ready to puke. Did anybody ask the Arabs if there want to be tossed into a pot with the Asians? Something inside me hears a “how dare you insult [whatever his name is – that guy with the bomb in his towel, PBUH].

Old (banned as an adjective that implies helplessness, dependency, or other negative qualities). Old? You can’t say old? Um, “not young”? “Senior citizen (or resident or person)”? You can’t say “old”? But he IS old! Can’t you smell him? Man, all urine and impacted fecal matter and yeast and ear gunk. Puke!

Paraplegic (banned as offensive; replace with "person with paraplegia"). What is “paraplegia”? Is that like a paraplegic? I don’t want to learn new words – or use three when one will suffice. Is an “amputee” now a “person with an amputation”? A “drunkard” a “person in a perpetual intoxicated state”? A “butler” a “person who butles”?

Polo (banned as elitist). Yeah, thanks, Prince Charles. Hey, ladies, polo is a sport. So you have to ride a horse and usually only rich people play it. Only rich people own race cars – do we ban “race-car owner”? Is “polo shirt” banned, too? I would call it a “golf shirt,” but golf is quite the expensive sport – elitist, too? “What kind of shirt is that?” “Oh, just something I threw together!” “Fairy …”

Satan (banned). Heh, heh, heh. Good luck with that. Let me know how it works out for you. He will become all too real as the flames of Hell lick your ass.

Snowman (banned, replace with "snow person"). They ARE men – by design. You ever put tits on a snowman? Not only is it gay, they fall off! Isn’t that insensitive to women with breast cancer?

Sufferer of cerebral palsy (banned as offensive; replace with "person who has loss of muscle control"). OK, this is stupid. You are telling me that every person in every medical situation that has a loss of muscle control HAS cerebral palsy? I’m a DOCTOR (I.MD), you know. This replacement phrase is factually wrong. What is the problem with you people?

I teach. I read textbooks all the time. I think I may write a lecture about an old, egghead, drunken, little person American Indian playing polo against a bunch of Middle Eastern lumberjacks that suffer from cerebral palsy. They’ll all be tossed from their horses and become paraplegics and will discuss with their cute dialects God and Satan as they make fairy snowmen. It will be an inspirational story of courageousness. Maybe they can have a boys’ night out, all dolled up like Adam and Eve, and chit-chat about our Founding Fathers and the busybodies they encounter.

I’ll write an invitation to the visiting team, “Dear Camel Jockeys …”


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