The campus language police are on patrol at Brandeis University. Its anti-violence Prevention, Advocacy, and Resource Center has issued a list of potentially oppressive words or phrases that would be better replaced by what it describes as more neutral language. Perhaps unironically, “trigger warning” is one of the spotlighted phrases that apparently might need a “trigger warning.”
“As a community, we can strive to remove language that may hurt those who have experienced violence from our everyday use,” the university organization explained on its website.
As a kind of a disclaimer, the organization adds that members of the university community can decide for themselves what language they choose to use or not use. What happens in day-to-day interaction, given the rigid, woke ideology that prevails at many institutions of what was traditionally considered higher learning, may be an entirely different matter. On the other hand, questions have also emerged as to whether the university is practicing what it preaches.
Brandeis is also encouraging students and faculty to share additional suggestions, so that’s an open-ended invitation for expansion.
There are five categories of oppressive language on the Brandeis taboo list: violent language, identity-based language, language that doesn’t say what we mean, culturally appropriative language, and person-first alternatives.
Massachusetts-based Brandeis is named after the esteemed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, while a social justice advocate, was also a champion of freedom of speech.
According to the PARC, violent language includes “killing it” (suggested alternative “great job” or “awesome” to avoid any supposed reference to murder), trigger warning (suggested replacement “content note” to steer clear of a purported connection to guns), and “rule of thumb” (“general rule” is a suggested alternative to avoid a supposed reference that feminists have alleged to wife-beating.)
“You guys,” “ladies and gentleman,” “freshman,” “she/he,” and “policeman/congressman,” are considered exclusionary identity-based language.
In case you were wondering, “spirit animal” is also deemed culturally inappropriate. And “walk-in” appointments are considered too ableist. The tabulation goes on at length.
Various news reports indicate that the word “picnic” was also frowned upon because of its alleged past association with lynching, but it appears that picnic was since edited out.
In a late December 2020 appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight to react to a similarly politically correct compendium from the University of Michigan, pundit Mark Steyn insisted that the negative connotation to picnic was a myth.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) December 24, 2020
According to Campus Reform, “the university has used several of these ‘oppressive’ words on their own website within the past six months,” however, including walk-in reservations, rule of thumb, and freshman, and which may have motivated Brandeis to add the disclaimer.
A Young American for Liberty member at the school told Campus Reform that the list “always came across as a simple bureaucratic power trip that was laughably out of touch. The fact that at least two of the words had false origins given to justify their placement on the list shows that the list had no real research or thought put into it. Any usage of these words by the school just solidifies that message.”
In a statement, a Brandeis University spokesperson said, in part, that the student-developed list was not a form of language prohibition, and that “It is simply a resource that can be accessed by anyone who wants to consider their own language in an effort to be respectful of others who may have different reactions to certain terms and phrases.”
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) described it, however, as “an all-out assault on our First Amendment” that exemplifies “the Far-Left cancel culture happening in our schools.”
Brandeis is also the home to an assistant dean who, about a month ago, wrote a four-paragraph diatribe posted to Instagram that championed critical race theory and claimed in the process that “all white people are racist.”
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) May 27, 2021
Tuition plus room and board at Brandeis runs to about $77,000, which is going to require a family to pony up about $300,000 (absent any scholarship funding) to enable their son or daughter to obtain a four-year diploma for education of this kind.
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