We all know about the hazards and follies of political correctness. But this time, the powers that be in Seattle, and it seems New York City as well, have gone way too far.
The Office for Civil Rights in Seattle, a Fox News report informed us last week, instructed city workers about no longer using terms that some people in Seattle might deem offensive.
I wondered when first reading this if they were talking about scores of white employees using the N word. No, that’s not it. The words they are complaining about include the following: “citizens” and “brown-bag lunch.” Not to be outdone, New York City’s Department of Education warned about such dangerous words as “dinosaurs,” “birthdays,” and, last but not least, “Halloween.”
Now that I know you are busily trying to discern what could be wrong about using such words, let the good city fathers tell you. A member of Seattle’s Civil Rights Commission, Elliott Bronstein, readily explained in an interview with a local TV news program. “Citizen,” he explained, insulted the many people in Seattle who were there illegally and, hence, not citizens. Therefore, all those living in the area must be called “residents.” Well, I somehow think they don’t really mind, because as long as they can get driver’s licenses, a free public school education for their children, and all the benefits real citizens have, I don’t think they give a hoot about what they are called.
But don’t dare call a lunchtime meeting and announce that it’s a “brown-bag lunch,” unless you wish to be brought up on charges of racism and perhaps lose your job for offending African-American colleagues. You see, Mr. Bronstein explained, for many African-Americans, “the phrase brown bag does bring up associations with the past when a brown bag was actually used…to determine if people’s skin color was light enough to allow admission to an event or to come into a party that was being held in a private home.”