August 1, 2015

WELL, TO BE FAIR, IT’S NOT THE ONLY ONE: The College that Hates “Americans.”

The administrator who added a confusing, tin-eared Bias-Free Language Guide—a 4,500-word assault on the English language—to the University of New Hampshire’s website as a resource for students and faculty must have been crazy. . . .

The Bias-Free Language Guide is a massive wall of text that explains why common word choices, phrases, and modifiers are unwelcome in polite discourse. Its purpose is to assist in the creation of “an inclusive learning community” by raising awareness of trivial slights in everyday language that, “for some, feels like a form of violence.”

Its authors, UNH Coordinator of Community Equity and Diversity Sylvia Foster among them, intended the guide as tool for molding a more feelings-conscious campus. But if their advice had ever been followed by a significant number of students and faculty members, everyone would have soon found themselves walking on eggshells 100 percent of the time.

Some examples are in order.

Instead of referring to the elderly as senior citizens (or even as the elderly), members of the UNH community are encouraged to embrace the most up-to-date politically-correct terminology: “people of advanced age” in this case, according to the guide. This is supposed to be somehow less derogatory than “senior citizen”, which of course was once the politically correct of saying “old”.

A poor person is not a poor person; he or she (or ze! At least according to the section on gender-queer pronouns) is a “person living at or below the poverty line.” Ok, fine. But by the same token, one should say that the rich are “persons of material wealth,” since persons living at or below the poverty line may be rich in character, or spirit, or any number of other things.

Fat people are not fat, overweight, or obese; they are “people of size,” a decidedly abstract description. Are all of us not people of size, in some sense?

Midgets are “someone(s) of short stature.” Illegal aliens are “persons seeking asylum.” (Then again, what if they’re not seeking asylum?) A blind person is a “person who is blind.” . . .

It’s good that these public universities aren’t explicitly requiring the use of inoffensive language, because that would be both illegal and impossible. It would violate the First Amendment rights of students and faculty while failing to protect everyone’s delicate ears from words that hurt them. Everything is offensive to someone, and some things that are offensive to some people aren’t offensive to others. One man’s “fat” is another man’s “person of size.” The great war on hurt-feelings at American university campuses is unwinnable, and the causalities are significant.

Yeah, well, liberals/progressives aren’t very fond of the First Amendment anymore. I’m confident they would ban “offensive” speech if they could get away with it. Oh, wait–maybe I shouldn’t call them liberals/progressives. Probably the more politically correct term–as a literal matter– is totalitarians. There, that’s better.

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