"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Problematic: American

Published on the UNH website is a "Bias-Free Language Guide" apparently residing there in relative anonymity until the past few days when it was reported on the Campus Reform website.
The one word that was found to be most glaring as "problematic" was the use of  American. It is a " problem" because North Americans refer to themselves as Americans and fail to recognize South Americans. Our bad I guess.  Some other "problematic" terms: “elders,” “senior citizen,” “overweight,” “speech impediment,” “dumb,” “sexual preference,” “manpower,” “freshmen,” “mailman,” and “chairman." We should also avoid using the terms " mothering" or " fathering" because heaven forbid ( am I allowed to say " heaven"?) we must "avoid gendering a non-gendered activity.”
I have to disagree very strongly though with the problematic use of the word " dumb." There are many people in this world that are just plain dumb and do dumb things ( like the idiot with Mass. plates that pulled out in front of me last evening and decided to drive 20 mph below the speed limit)  and I personally think is it okay in my book to call them dumb. That Masshole was very dumb. Sorry, Masshole is probably also problematic. In fact I'm sure it is.

UNH President Mark Huddleston published this statement clearly indicating that this  guid is not UNH policy. " The only UNH policy on speech is that it is free and unfettered on our campuses." While I don't agree with much of the content of the Bias-Free Guide, I do agree with free speech, and any attempt to remove this content from the UNH website would be contradictory to Huddleston's disclaimer. I do believe we need to be more tolerant and accepting as a society in many areas, but this forcefeeding of politically correct gobblygook is not the way forward. 
Language is in constant evolution and most of us ( Donald Trump notwithstanding) have some degree of understanding about what is right and wrong to say in the context of the times we live in.


Samuel Clemens said...

Certain words are just out dated. Although colloquialism keeps some going.
Fireman as an example. The correct term is fire fighter. That is what the/most fireman prefer. Fireman is just an old outdated term.
Mailman as an example. The correct term is letter carrier or rural carrier. That is what most prefer.
Midget is another term that is outdated. That group of people prefer the term little people. Just ask any person who is a member of Little People of America.
Handicapped is another old term rarely used except for parking spaces.

Of course free speech allows anyone to say just about any word. It is a good idea to keep informed of correct terms so as not to offend some. But if you don't mind offended some then go ahead and use whatever term you wish.

No harm in someone providing a guide. If you don't like the guide then don't read it or use it.

“The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” —Mark Twain

Anonymous said...

Inconsiderate drivers are not restricted to Massholes. It may be due to the aging of the Northeast population in general. I spend a few weeks in one of the snowbird areas of Florida and the driving manners are atrocious there.

I often follow vehicles going 30 to 35 MPH down the Neck Road or 45 in the 55 stretch between Center Harbor and Meredith. This happens year round so it is not just out of staters.

Joe Cormier/jcormier2@myfairpoint.net said...

"But whatever you do, don't call the creators of this massive trigger warning, mentally ill, hyper-sensitive, psycho, crazy, insane, wacko, or nuts. They prefer "person with a mental health condition." Which does, actually, seem to fit rather nicely."


Authors of UNH piece ... a real piece of work


Shrinks ... says it all!

As far as "American" ... I can remember as a teenager being up in Buctouche, New Brunswick (father's birth place) and puzzled by a comment made by one of the resident teenagers. We were discussing "draft cards" (conscription ... not football) and I mentioned "being American" and was quickly reminded that Canadians are American too! I thought about it, and said, sure, I just hadn't thought about it before. Regarding Buctouche, don't knock it, Irving Oil Co. was started by a guy from there.

Why not these words?