Back in 2013, campus activists started demanding the policing of speech. They pushed to ban “microaggressions” (words or phrases that may offend certain minorities often unintentionally) and demanded “trigger warnings” before professors assigned certain controversial reading materials. Recently, the Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center (PARC) at Brandeis University released a new list of verboten words and phrases — and “trigger warning” itself has been canceled, along with words like “victim,” “addict,” “survivor,” “tribe,” “picnic,” and even the phrase “people of color.”
That’s right, the Woke language police have turned on the previously Woke phrases “trigger warning” and “people of color.” Revolutions devour their own rather quickly these days.
The language police at PARC break down the verboten “Oppressive” words and phrases into five different categories: violent language, identity-based language, “language that doesn’t say what we mean,” culturally appropriative language, and “person-first alternatives.”
“PARC recognizes that language is a powerful tool used to perpetrate and perpetuate oppression. As a community, we strive to remove oppressive language from our everyday use. This list is meant to be a tool to share information and suggestions about potentially oppressive language,” PARC explains. Ever so helpful!
Trigger warning: Here comes the “violent” language!
All kidding aside, PARC claims that “violent language in this list may be explicitly or implicitly violent expressions and metaphors that are used casually and unintentionally. These examples can be easily replaced by saying something more direct.”
Apparently, phrases like “Killing it” or “Take a stab at” offend those pristine Brandeisian sensibilities. Fans of Boondock Saints will laugh at reading the old Karen complaint about the phrase “rule of thumb,” which of course has an ugly history but which has nothing to do with beating wives today. PARC also shares the false claim that the word “picnic” traces back to “lynchings of Black people in the United States.” In reality, it traces back to the 1600s French term “pique-nique.”
Yet the best part of the “violent language” document is, of course, the cancelation of the phrase “trigger warning.” According to the fine upstanding totally-not-racist Woke language police at PARC, “The word ‘trigger’ has connections to guns for many people; we can give the same head’s up using language less connected to violence.” According to PARC, “Content note” or “Drop-in” will suffice, so “trigger warnings” are out.
Yet “violence” is far from PARC’s only deep concern about “problematic” language. “Identity-based oppressive language,” the language police so helpfully inform us, “includes a range of word and phrases including slurs, unhelpful euphamisms [sic], and exclusionary words and phrases.”
Good little Wokesters at Brandeis will avoid “gender exclusive language” like “Ladies and Gentlemen,” “Policeman,” “Freshman,” and those dreaded pronouns “He” and “She.” Instead, PARC recommends gender-neutral versions of as many words as possible, and the Woke dictum “Ask their pronouns!”
“African-American” is out because “Not all Black people are from Africa and/or America.” Even the “generic ‘people of color'” is out. Brandeisians should use the far more accessible term BIPOC for “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color” — doesn’t that just roll off the tongue?
PARC would also erase “Ableist language” from the lexicon, including terms like “crazy,” “wild,” “insane,” and “lame.” Even “walk-in” might “trivialize” the “experiences of people living mental health conditions.” Phrases like “long time no see” and “no can do” also “originate from stereotypes making fun of non-native English speakers,” so they’re out, too.
The ever-helpful language police also want to help Brandeisians avoid “language that doesn’t say what we mean.”
Phrases such as “everything going on right now” risk “miscommunication and can also avoid accountability.” Using terms like “committed” or “failed” in conjunction with suicide “frame suicide as a crime or an achievement, implying judgment about suicidality.” Joking about suicide via phrases like “Kill me” is also out.
The PARC language police also recommend avoiding “victim” and “survivor” because “these labels can make a person feel reduced to an experience.”
Naturally, Brandeis is not to be outdone when it comes to transgender orthodoxy. Terms such as “Female-identifying,” “Male-identifying,” “Female-bodied,” and “Male-bodied” are verboten since they “imply that a person’s identity isn’t ‘real’ or that their body defines them in a different way than they might identify.”
PARC would also ban “culturally appropriative language,” such as the word “tribe,” which “was historically used in a dehumanizing way to equate indigenous people with savages.” Non-Native American uses of terms like “Powwow” and “Spirit animal” are also out — although there appears to be no limit on non-Italian uses of the term “mafia” or non-Christian uses of “communion” or the name of Jesus Christ. How inclusive!
Finally, the Brandeisian language police insist that students use “person-first language” to “resist defining people by just one thing about them.”
The words “victim” and “survivor” make a second appearing on this list. According to PARC, Brandeisians should not use the word “addict,” but instead resort to the clunky phrase “Person with a substance use disorder.” Similarly, they must reject “Homeless Person” for “Person experiencing housing insecurity” and toss “Prostitute” for “Person who engages in sex work.”
It seems rather impossible to keep track of all these rules to avoid “oppressive language.” In fact, even Brandeis falls afoul of these rules! One of the university’s majors is “African and African American Studies.” Whoops!
Brandeis University also awards “Bachelor’s” degrees and “Master’s” degrees, even though “bachelor” implies a male-dominated environment and “master” may theoretically evoke images of slavery.
While it seems the language police are doomed to fail — and make fools of themselves in the process — the canceling of words and phrases on account of hidden “oppression” echoes and arguably traces back to Marxist critical race theory (CRT), which seeks to reveal a hidden racial oppression embedded in American society. CRT advocates claim that the American status quo is racist — if not “white supremacist” — so extreme measures to reverse historic injustices are the only “anti-racist” option.
The language police seek to tie words and phrases that are used innocently today to examples of racist, classist, or sexist oppression in the past. This narrative boosts CRT, which is wreaking havoc on society, leading people to demonize white people for the color of their skin and sparking a civil war in education.
Americans should laugh at the absurdity of the language police, but we also have to combat this noxious ideology.