New York City, the Big Apple, the city so nice they named it twice, the home of a new education policy that makes Arkansas look like a bunch of liberal hippies…
The NYC department of education has a list of words you can’t say on a test because it might offend someone. Very impressive list too.
Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological)
Alcohol (beer and liquor), tobacco, or drugs
Birthday celebrations (and birthdays)
Cancer (and other diseases)
Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes)
Children dealing with serious issues
Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia)
Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting)
Death and disease
Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes
Gambling involving money
Homes with swimming pools
In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge
Loss of employment
Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
Television and video games (excessive use)
Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)
Vermin (rats and roaches)
War and bloodshed
Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.
A few of these are obvious “don’t make people feel bad!” bullshit words. Don’t mention holidays? Because any kid who can read is probably unaware of the fact there are holidays beside what they celebrate! Some are a bit better, but still the same general feeling. I can understand the idea behind not using words like “abuse” or “run away” when they may be issues the kids you are testing are dealing with, but I think the concern is misplaced. You may have to be careful around the subject to not cause undue harm, but not being able to say the word? What does that gain you?
Still others are simply amazing. War, violence, slavery, evolution, death, crime, politics… What class in the humanities can you teach after you remove these topics? How does history look after you cross those words out? In fact if you cross out those words and all the related material American history is pretty short. “Some white people sailed here in a boat. We can’t say why, their kids are here today.”
The good news is that if we can get Utah to adopt his list I would be breaking that policy several dozen times per class. I like that idea. Someone forward this list to an anal repub here in the state, would you?
Last but not least, I can never hear about lists of bad words without thinking of Carlin. “Bad words! These seven bad words you can never ever say on television are the reaaaalllyyy bad words. These words will stunt your growth, kill your grandmother, and make the country lose the war. They must be some really bad words! You know the seven, right? Shitpissfuckcuntcocksuckermotherfuckertits, right?”
But the real point George brought up, and emphasized in that skit, was that there are no bad words. There are bad thoughts, bad intentions, and bad feelings, but words are just words. This should be obvious to anyone who has a little linguistic history in their experience. A racist prick like Rick Santorum can use the word “educated” in a way that lets you know just how much he loathes you. Look at the number of times the prefered term for one single group has changed. And then changed again because those who hate them have turned the word into a slur. Negro, black, African American, all used in an attempt to escape hate. That won’t be escaped by a name change. As if the hatred where attacked to the word. Ask the gay population what it is like to be called by a word that once meant happy, later become a general insult, and is now so confused as to be nearly anything.
The word isn’t the issue, the concept described is the issue. If we have a problem with a concept, banishing the word won’t make it go away. Halting the use of the word “evolution” doesn’t magically make the world a 6 day creation, and dropping the word “abuse” from the lexicon doesn’t make abuse stop happening.
(edit: not sure why the title didn’t take)