If you thought that the war on language being waged by some American colleges was out of control, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
According to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, using the term “politically correct” as a pejorative is a politically incorrect “microaggression”.
A campaign entitled ‘Just Words’ which seeks to “raise awareness of microaggressions and their impact” asserts that the terms “politically correct” and “PC” have “become a way to deflect, [and say] that people are being too ‘sensitive’ and police language.”
Other words and terms deemed offensive include;
– Lame (Because it “ridicules and ignores the lives of amputees”)
– Retarded (“Targets individuals with varying cognitive, emotional and physical abilities as targets for ridicule”)
– Thug (“Assumes that violence is the sole motivating factor in an action. Ignores issues of poverty, education and other institutional barriers”)
– Illegal Alien (“Fails to recognize the humanity of immigrants”)
– Crazy (“Creates a negative and demeaning of perspective of people with mental diagnoses”)
– Welfare Queen (“Assumes that a female individual is living off of welfare because she is lazy”)
– Trash (Uses class to marginalize and dismiss individuals of lower socioeconomic status”).
A “Bias-Free Language Guide” posted on the University of New Hampshire website which made headlines earlier this year asserts that the word “American” is “problematic” because it “assumes the U.S. is the only country inside [the continents of North and South America].”
Other discouraged words and phrases included, “obese,” “normal,” “mothering,” “fathering,” “homosexual,” “illegal alien,” and “senior citizens.”
The biggest gay rights lobby group in the United States also recently called on schools to eliminate “gender stereotypes” by training staff to avoid using the words “boy” and “girl” in class.
I was a bit surprised at the appearance of “senior citizens” in this list, because to the best of my knowledge it is itself of fairly recent coinage (1970s?), and was intended to portray “old people” in a rosier light. It would seem that, after 40 years, “senior citizens” has become as soiled (perhaps even as incontinent?) as “old people”
Something of the same fate seems to have overtaken “gay”, which was coined around the same time to replace “homo” and “queer”, and is now being used by kids as an equivalent term of abuse.
And I’ve heard that
black coloured people these days will quite happily call each other “nigger”. Nobody else is allowed to, of course.
I think the problem is that if people don’t like blacks/coloureds/niggers and homos,/queers/gays, the disapproval is going to become attached to whatever word is used to describe them. And conversely, if disapproving names are given to people who are actually widely admired, those names will come to lose their negative impact. e.g. animals, rolling stones, kinks, beetles, etc.
And what more abused and disapproved social group is there than smokers? Are we not subjected to incessant ‘micro-aggressions’? We are, for example, regularly called ‘addicts’, and our lifestyles described as ‘unhealthy’ and ‘poisonous’. I’m sure there are plenty more such descriptors that readers can remind me of.
It had me thinking that maybe we ought to climb on board the PC bandwagon, and start demanding that the abusive language directed at us be moderated. Why not play them at their own game? Perhaps we should invent a new name for ourselves to replace “smoker”, with something with a positive association. The first ones that came to mind were “cools” or “calms” or ‘clears’ or ‘straights’. Any suggestions?
But in general I’m disinclined to moderate the language I use against the scum in Tobacco Control. And I want pure, undiluted, in-your-face macro-aggression, not wimpish ‘micro-aggression’. So I’m going to keep calling them filthy stinking bastards, and worse.