Those dangerous dinosaurs

I am a little late to this story about how in the US extreme sensitivity to religious people’s beliefs can result in the most bizarre policies being implemented. For example, the New York City department of education has banned certain words in citywide tests because they may upset students. What words? ‘Dinosaur’ for one.

The prehistoric creatures are among 50 terms banned from use on tests administered to students by the city.

Others include birthdays (because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t observe them), class-indentifying terms like wealth and poverty, Halloween (as it may imply paganism) – and even dancing.

Why dinosaurs? Because they may upset those who dont believe in evolution.

The department said in a report obtained by the New York Post that it is taking these steps because such words ‘could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students’.

Jonathan Turley has the full list of the fifty banned words.

In my experience, students are far more robust than we give them credit for and are not the ones who get upset but their parents and religious busybodies. Such self-censorship is usually the pathetic attempt by authorities to spare themselves the headache of dealing with angry adults not upset children.


  1. unbound says

    By creating the list, the students are almost certainly going to focus on those words and talk about them even more. You’d think the NY dept of ed would have had enough experience dealing with kids to know better…

  2. Sigmund says

    “The department said in a report obtained by the New York Post that it is taking these steps because such words ‘could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students’.”
    Perhaps they mean those kids from Jurassic Park (that velociraptor incident was quite scary!)

  3. Jim Eastman says

    It is rather annoying. I do some work with a toy company (that I won’t name — though I’m sure they’re not the only ones with this policy) that refuses to do toys involving dinosaurs, for fear of offending people (presumably the kids’ parents). Ugh…

  4. StevoR says

    Don’t the creationists still believe in dinosaurs and think people lived with and Jesus rode ’em anyhow?

    Which is still very silly but hardly means they’re going to find the mere word “dinosuar” offensive. Unless it is being directed to them and their leaders in the perjorative sense which would be, well, apt.

  5. says

    Nah. I wrote about the same thing on my blog as well. I really don’t think it’s about what the kids may or may not do, but about what the parents may or may not do. It’s the parents of these kids who get all crazy and in an uproar when they feel their kids are exposed to stimuli that they find objectionable.

    Kids would more likely accept science when it’s properly presented to them, while it’s the parents who’d say “How dare you pollute my child’s mind with facts!!” I think the fact that they also seem to exclude references to Christian practices in the list is a good indication that they want to simply avoid opening a can of worms that might yield some parental backlash from parents who believe they should shield their kids from anything unpleasant.

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