Even during the holidays, the word police are still on duty.
The University of Michigan’s “Words Matter Task Force” has issued a list of about two dozen words/phrases that could be offensive and lack inclusivity, along with a list of more politically correct replacement terms.
Free speech is already often in short supply on many college campuses with speech codes or the woke equivalent in effect. Upon reviewing a preliminary memo issued under the auspices of the school’s Information and Technology Services department, perhaps a case could be made in the disassociated world as it exists in 2020 for some of the identified, allowable alternatives.
However, the initiative also seeks to replace benign terms such as “brown bag,” and “long time no see,” and “picnic. The recommended substitutes are “lunch and learn,” “it’s been a while/I haven’t see you in ages,” and “gathering,” respectively.
In a statement, the university official acknowledged the whole thing is a work in progress with the end goal of creating understanding about the impact of language “This ongoing work around language is part of the ITS effort to create a workplace that is diverse, equitable and inclusive…”
Pundit and wordsmith Mark Steyn deemed the list — see below and form your own conclusions — as an unforced error that is “moronic” and “parochial.”
In an appearance on FNC’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, Steyn pointed out that memo seeks to ban picnic based on an urban myth of sorts that it has something to do with lynching. “It’s not; it’s been around for the best part of half a millennium,” Steyn declared.
Alluding to that “off the reservation” is also deemed unacceptable at Michigan, Steyn claimed that Michigan officials are ironically trying to keep people on “a linguistic reservation…if you lack the word to express a thought, in the end, you can’t think a thought, and that’s actually something that’s in every single bit of dystopian literature, whether it’s George Orwell or whether it’s H.G. Wells…You don’t go to a university to shrink your vocabulary.
“Pull your kids out of this school, folks; this isn’t a school anymore,” Steyn advised.
Later in the discussion, Mark Steyn declared that “it is a basic component of liberty for an individual to decide when he’s gonna use any particular word.”
Tucker Carlson and Steyn agreed that as officials become increasingly and obsessively worried about harmful words, they are perversely less concerned about physical, person-to-person violence.
In the context of the modern left, Steyn responded that “at a certain point, if you lack the vocabulary to hold a debate, it’s easier just to lob a piece of concrete through a store window.
In the beginning of the segment, Carlson explained that “you need words to think. The fewer words you have, the less thinking you can do. And of course, that’s the entire point of restricting our available vocabulary down to just a few sanitized grunts. And that’s where we’re heading — fast.”
Separately, Dictionary.com has identified what it calls problematic words/phrases and provides alternatives. The online dictionary encourages people to stop using the terms spirit animal, Sherpa, guru, ninja, and scalp or risk cultural appropriation. Hysterical was also flagged because of the implications of misogyny.
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