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The Worldnutdaily’s Ban That Isn’t a Ban

The Worldnutdaily is back with yet another pearl-clutching and entirely inaccurate headline:

PC POLICE BAN ‘ILLEGAL’ LANGUAGE

I’m sure you’ll be shocked to know that the article actually includes no police and no ban on any “illegal” language. It’s just a campaign at the University of Maryland to encourage — yes, encourage — people to stop using insensitive language.

A public university in Maryland is spending thousands of dollars on a “diversity” campaign targeted at students to stop them from using “insensitive” phrases such as “illegal alien,” “that’s so retarded” and “no homo.”

The University of Maryland, or UMD, has spent $15,000 just this year on its “inclusive language campaign,” CampusReform.org reports.

Wow, a whole $15,000? This is an outrage!

Yet another entry warns students against stating that another person “looks like a terrorist” because “the phrase may offend people who are of Arab decent, Muslim, and people who phenotypically look like the stereotype of a terrorist”

Very slippery language. It “warns students.” Actually, all it does is tell them that saying someone looks like a terrorist just because they are of Arabic decent is an insensitive stereotype. Wow, how Orwellian.

And here’s that terrible “ban” in action:

“The words you use may have an impact on others. Consider the power of your words as you choose what to say, and consider different ways that you can communicate the same message. If you are offended by someone’s language, engage them in a discussion. Ask them what they really meant by what they said. Together, sharing each other’s stories, we can help others see the power of their words.”

Encouraging people to consider how their language affects others? I bet Hitler did that before he started throwing people in concentration camps. I’m sure Glenn Beck can find a link.

Look, I have been an outspoken critic of campus hate speech codes. I believe they are almost always unconstitutional and I have long argued that the ACLU should start filing suits against them at every opportunity (they have done so in the past and won, but it’s done little to stop such codes from proliferating; we need a Supreme Court ruling on them). But this is not a “ban” and it doesn’t make any words “illegal.” That is just the Worldnutdaily’s usual hysteria. There is nothing wrong with encouraging students to think about the impact of their words and about how those words can affect someone who is so often mistreated due to negative stereotypes.

Comments

  1. imrryr says

    Surely there’s only so much clutching that pearls can take before they’re ground into dust?

  2. tubi says

    As an ex-Terp I can confirm that theyprobably should have done this years ago. One of the fraternities used to host parties called “Slap a JAP” nights. Where JAP = Jewish American Princess.

    Suggesting that people be sensitive to others can only have a positive outcome, one would hope.

  3. cuervodecuero says

    Ah, WND, that whacky Onion of the Tea Partiers. Ban Illegal language. Uhmm..if it’s illegal innit already banned?

  4. says

    Oh, WND……seriously, contact FIRE and get some real information on what universities are actually doing, and then you can start bitching! Accurately!

  5. says

    So, they’re complaining about the university politely asking for people to be more considerate of their language. Funny how these sorts of people have a great deal of overlap with those who claim that atheists who assert their mere existence (even if they do it without making any commentary on theist beliefs) are inherently impolite savages.

  6. thisisaturingtest says

    Well, you’ve got to figure that “think about what you’re saying” is not a message that either WND or their readers is going to want to hear.

  7. eric says

    Encouraging politeness = censorship. Hmmm, can encouraging hand washing = socialist medicine be far behind?

  8. says

    That is just the Worldnutdaily’s usual hysteria. There is nothing wrong with encouraging students to think about the impact of their words and about how those words can affect someone who is so often mistreated due to negative stereotypes.

    Let’s begin with hysteria.

    A word best avoided unless you’re saying that something’s very funny.

  9. freemage says

    Taz@6: Have you ever read/listened to a neo-con on the subject of PBS and NPR? Freakin’ Kermit is pretty much Zombie Stalin’s advance guard in their minds, so Mr. Rogers = Zombie Hitler wouldn’t surprise me, either.

  10. says

    The man had a magic trolley!

    Trolley = mass transit = socialism!

    Clearly Mister Rogers was a sleeper agent plotting to take our cars away!

  11. says

    Oh, WND……seriously, contact FIRE and get some real information on what universities are actually doing…

    Given how similar FIRE sometimes sounds to these loons, I’d say the two have already been in contact.

  12. jameshanley says

    UMD has about 37,000 students, and they’re spending $15,000? So they’re spending about 40 cents per student asking them to not talk like uneducated assholes?

    If it works, that’s a damned cost-effective policy!

  13. says

    Let’s begin with hysteria.

    A word best avoided unless you’re saying that something’s very funny.

    Allow me to express my extreme displeasure with and opposition to the idea that a word should not be used because it had an ableist meaning in the past, but no longer has such a meaning today. Few English speakers are even aware of where that word came from, and your link provides mostly arguments along the lines of “hundreds of years ago it was used in an ableist manner, so don’t use it today!”

    By that reasoning (it’s ableist in its etymological past, so don’t use it), the following words would be prohibited:

    Apoplectic
    Cretin
    Lame
    Moron
    Imbecile
    Dumb
    Idiot
    Cripple
    Freak
    Inveigle
    Maniac
    Mad
    Feebleminded
    Insane
    Certifiable
    Paranoia
    Lunatic
    Fanatic
    Crazy

    All of these words, at one point or another in their history and/or origin, had ableist usages. But no one uses them that way today. If I say “Policy X crippled the economy”, it’s true that this usage of “cripple” originated from ableism, but it’s false to think such a connotation would register with modern English users. How many people even know that apoplectic once referred to someone who had a stroke? Or that inveigle comes from the French for a blind person? Or that a “cretin” once meant a dwarf?

    Ask the average English speaker about the word “hysteria”, and my guess is that few–if any–are even aware that it comes from the Greek for “womb” or that during the 19th century it was actually a medical diagnosis (as were moron, imbecile, idiot, feebleminded and paranoid). Ask a person today what they mean by “hysteria”, and they’ll probably tell you something like “going crazy”. Crazy, by the way, used to mean “Diseased and sickly” back in the 16th century. But it would be “insane” to call someone ableist for using it today.

  14. M, Supreme Anarch of the Queer Illuminati says

    Wes @ 16 —

    Of course! Etymology not being strictly prescriptive means that nothing carries any connotation other than what the people who use any given word will talk about publicly. It’s completely legitimate to use “gay,” for instance, as a generic term of disapproval; why, only the PC police would think of this as homophobic!

  15. dingojack says

    Idiot? Hmmm….
    Lets see what Liddell & Scott’s A Greek-English Lexicon says:
    ἰδιότης
    and Lewis and Short’s A Latin Dictionary says:
    ĭdĭōta
    (Note Cicero’s quote In context “[There was in the house of Heius a private chapel of great sacredness, handed down to him from his ancestors, very ancient; in which he had four very beautiful statues, made with the greatest skill, and of very high character]; calculated not only to delight Verres, that clever and accomplished man, but even any one of us whom he calls the mob…” (Against Verres. Actio 2, 4th book, section 4). Here he uses ‘idiota’ to mean ‘the hoi poli’ or, more properly, ‘the plebs’.

    Dingo

  16. gratch says

    A school reminding students that their words have meaning beyond what they intend and that other human beings have feelings to? Hell I think they should make the “Prove your not a spam bot” picture ID thing for Youtube. Wouldn’t it be a better world if every time you logged into youtube you had to read some variant of that? If it only affected 1% of the commenters it would be a huge improvement.

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