Thursday, March 29, 2012

Political Correctness–The Death Knell of Society

I saw with amusement and sadness this week, a report that NYC’s Department of Education is adding to the list of words it wants to ban from tests for fear that they may offend certain students.

Now, in truth, these words are truly disgusting, words that probably offend you as much as they offend me.

Words like “birthday” and “dinosaur”.

The word “birthday” apparently insults people like Jehovah’s Witnesses who don’t celebrate them (does this mean they never age) while the word “dinosaur” allegedly is offensive to some creationists who think dinosaurs are a lie by the scientific community intended to undermine their faith.

So … “when in Rome” as the expression goes (no offense to people who have never been to Rome), and in the spirit of encouraging the sanitization of the English language (sanitizing using only green products so I don’t offend the uber-ecologists out there), I’d like to add a few things to the list.

Things like the color blue, since blue is also associated with feeling down and so a blue sky, which suggests a beautiful day, may be deemed to be insulting to those who suffer from the scourge of depression.

Hmmmm … maybe I should add scourge to the list since scourge is often associated with the scourging of Jesus and so some atheists may be offended.

Movies like "X-Men” are gender-insensitive so we will refer to them as “X-People”.  Does this imply they were once people but are no longer people?  Would dead people be offended by this? A multi-million dollar government study could get to the bottom of this once and for all.

For Chinese people, the number 4 is homophonous with the word for death so maybe we should cut that one out also.

Hmmmm … I wonder if I just offended someone with the word homophonous.

Speaking of banning words that sound too close to other words, does anyone remember this incident back in 1999 when the use of the word niggardly (which means stingy or miserly) was used?

On January 15, 1999, David Howard, a white aide to Anthony A. Williams, the black mayor of Washington, D.C., used "niggardly" in reference to a budget. This apparently upset one of his black colleagues (identified by Howard as Marshall Brown), who interpreted it as a racial slur and lodged a complaint. As a result, on January 25 Howard tendered his resignation, and Williams accepted it.However, after pressure from the gay community (of which Howard was a member) an internal review into the matter was brought about, and the mayor offered Howard the chance to return to his position as Office of the Public Advocate on February 4. Howard refused but accepted another position with the mayor instead, insisting that he did not feel victimized by the incident. On the contrary, Howard felt that he had learned from the situation. "I used to think it would be great if we could all be colorblind. That's naïve, especially for a white person, because a white person can afford to be colorblind. They don't have to think about race every day. An African American does”.

Thinking of words that sound like others, I wonder if my habit of masticating in public may be offensive to some.  In fact, one of my favorite things to do is go out with friends and masticate together.  I don’t think I could live unless I masticated daily.

My first name, Harry, means to harass by repeated attacks, and so in this “anti-bully society” I guess I won’t be using it anymore.  Maybe I can be like the musical artist Prince who changed his name to a symbol (if I can find one that doesn’t offend someone).

For all of you guys named Richard, I fear for the lawsuits you face from some overly-sensitive man-hater in the workplace if you choose to go with the common abbreviation of your name.

But alas, I digress.

This sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  If, 20 years ago, we would have said that we would have a society in the future that would try to sanitize our language so much, we would have laughed.

Where does it end? How about this?

I recently had a grievance filed against me by a client who, in the grievance, indicated that the high levels of respect and politeness that I demonstrate to people in the workplace is offensive.  Apparently, such politeness implies I am up to something and so I was asked to stop demonstrating respect and politeness immediately.

What prompted this grievance?

I used the phrase “thank you”.

So why don’t we ban that also?

Think of how much time we could save over a lifetime if we stop expressing gratitude for things!

Personally, I’m offended by ignorance, indifference, apathy, greed and hate emanating from a species that believes it is the pinnacle of evolution but we don’t care about trying to prevent these things so I should stop wasting my energy by being offended.

In fact, the next time I see a kid’s birthday party in the park, I’ll race over and tear down the signs before someone who would be offended by them stumbles upon the party.

And that Christmas tree that is raised in Rockefeller Plaza in NYC every year?

Let’s burn down the next one before an atheist becomes totally offended by it. 

Come to think of it, why don’t we set up an Anti-Offense League (we’ll name it the Pro-Love League because it sounds less offensive) and roam the streets, cleansing everything that offends everyone.

We’ll be heroes – the champions of the easily-offended and the overly-sensitive!  When we are done, the members of the League can then turn on each other and then our jobs will be complete.

And in the years to come, when we have crippled society with a generation that is overly sensitive, excessively easy to offend and can have their entire day disrupted because someone smiled and said “good morning”, we will have achieved the perfect society.

A society afraid to do anything.

Meanwhile, we will continue to use words and phrases like terrorist, WMD, threat, attack and other such things. It seems to be what we focus on anyway, so why not?

Now … in fairness and in the spirit of open-mindedness, I will finish this blog using words that are guaranteed to not offend anyone.

Let ‘s see … it looks like this ……










  1. Mr. Tucker,

    The Lord Jehovah created us in his image. The only way we can honor him is to create our children in our image and protect them from the evils of this world. How do you propose we protect them from these evils unless we set rules about what is allowed to be taught to them? Protecting them from words that introduce thoughts of evil is important if we are to raise them in purity.

    Your comment about your sexual interests can only have been inspired by Satan and should not be allowed to be published. Your parents obviously failed you if you enjoy such behavior.

    I will pray for you so that you can see truth in the raising of our children.

    Tamara Cook

  2. Hi Tamara,

    Thank you for your comment.

    We have some significant philosophical differences in how we see kids being raised. I believe that we must allow our children to grow beyond our own capabilities and not be constrained by them. If we constrain the next generation and that generation constrains the next, we learn less and less with each generation until we attain the ultimate position of ignorance.

    In this way, instead of making the world better we would make it worse with each generation.

    As for my "sexual interests", I am assuming you are referring to my interest in mastication.

    Mastication is the chewing of food, not known to be evil the last time I checked.

    As for my parents, they did a fine job with me. While I appreciate the prayers, I would prefer you send them in the direction of someone in greater need of them.

    Create a great day.


  3. Hi Harry,

    I have been checking the list of words the NYC Department of Education proposes to ban (in "tests") in an attempt not to "upset" any of your readers with my comment.

    As I mentioned to you yesterday, here in Calgary we haven't had time yet to organize lists of words unsuitable for answering 'test' questions [side note: so I hope you taken advantage of your time here] but I can certainly see the point.

    After all a brief perusal of the 50 proposed "additions" to the list of banned words would seem to correspond nicely with a reduced world view commensurate with the contemporary decline in educational vision.

    As you wrote "amusement and sadness..." although I would have added and begun with "dismay": institutional attitudes such as 'banned word lists' create, as the hallmark of their existence, a intellectual and existential lassitude which characteristically has the soporific effect of inspiring a retreat to the bunker (or couch in front of the TV, as the case may be). Where do you even begin to gather the energy to confront such monolithic blockheadedness? Let alone begin the confrontation?

    Well, criticize my failure to lead the storming of the barricades if you will, but I shall go no further than posting this and mentioning the NYC Department of Education to my circle of friends as an institution suitable to assigned to the epoch when young creationists walked hand in hand (paw? hoof?) with dinosaurs ... ... ... oops!

    Hope that enjoy your time in the New West,


  4. Hi Shawn,

    Many thanks for your kind comments.

    Here's what makes me worry for our future (despite our phenomenal potential). When one warns people of where this can go (and where it has gone relative to years ago), they will tell you to either not be a pessimist or to not be paranoid. When these things come to fruition, they're the loudest to complain about the developments (saying things like "How could I have known?"), while at the same time, you can't help but think "'I told you so' just doesn't cut it here".

    I think of 9/11 and other events. In the early 1990's, my father-in-law, a retired USAF Colonel, told me that one of the greatest fears that US military planners were concerned about involved terrorists using our own commercial aircraft against domestic targets. The fear the military had, in addition to the terrorist act itself, was "If I order a pilot to shoot down a commercial plane and he stops to think and wonders if his mother / father / brother / sister / child is on the plane, will he shoot down the plane anyway? Probably not."

    10 years later, as I listened to President Bush and VP Cheney say we were taken completely offguard by the events of 9/11, I could only think to what my father-in-law told me many years before.

    In March of 2008, as a Wall St'er I began to warn people about what was coming in September of 2008. I publicly named the event, the week and the institutions involved and a lot of people thought it was fear mongering. When the events of Sept / 08 arrived and unfolded as I had publicly stated in March, some of the people I had warned were angry that I didn't try harder to convince them.

    When we don't pay attention to what develops around us, we deserve what we get. Whether we will let it go too far to fix it on a societal is something that colleagues of mine and I discuss daily. Such conversations need to be held by a lot more people but aren't for the faint of heart.

    Maybe some day, we will understand what we are doing to ourselves and finally start making greater strides towards our potential.

    Until then, we seem to need to allow ourselves to be pushed up against the wall.

    Transformation doesn't always come easy.

    Take care and create a great weekend, Shawn.