THE LANGUAGE POLICE

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You may have read George Orwell’s classic book, “1984,” which focused on the way people can be misled and persuaded by a language where a political force with an agenda subtly alters definitions, censors words and creates new terms. All this was intended to alienate people from independent thought and self reliance thereby clearing the way for government to control them. That was fiction.

What is not fiction is the way the present day language police have established an elaborate protocol of what is called a beneficent censorship. Politically correct school boards, bias and sensitivity committees now review, abridge, and censor texts which in their opinion are contain potentially offensive words, topics, and imagery.

Historian Diane Ravitch reveals how utterly absurd the politically correct censors have become in her book, The Language Police. Following are a typical publisher’s instructions about what they cannot publish:

  • Women cannot be depicted as care givers or doing household chores.
  • Men cannot be lawyers or doctors or plumbers. They must be nurturing helpmates.
  • Old people cannot be feeble or dependent; they must jog or repair the roof.
  • A story that is set in the mountains discriminates against students from flatlands.
  • Children cannot be shown as disobedient or in conflict with adults.
  • Cake cannot appear in a story because it is not nutritious.
  • The word “jungle” must not be used. Use “rainforest” instead.
  • The expression “soul food” must never be used.
  • “Able bodied” must not be used. Use “person who is not disabled.”
  • “Abnormal” is banned because it is demeaning to people with disablilities.
  • Replace “Adam and Eve” with “Eve and Adam.”
  • “Birth defect” is banned. Replace with “people with congenital disabilities.”
  • “Cripple” is banned. Replaced with “person with a mobility impairment.”
  • “Fraternity” is banned as sexist. Replace with “community.”
  • “Hut” is banned. Replace with “small houses.”
  • “Illegal alien” is banned. Replace with “undocumented resident.”
  • “Lame” is banned. Replace with “walks with a cane.”
  • “Man, mankind, men” are banned. Replace with “humanity, the human race, people, personalities, women and men.”
  • “Manhunt” is banned. Replace with “hunt for a person.”
  • “Masterpiece” is banned. Replace with “work of art.”
  • “Master plan” is banned. Replace with “comprehensive plan.”
  • “Minority” is banned. Replace with “historically underrepresented group.”
  • “Needy” is banned. Replace with “individual in need.”
  • “Senior citizen” is banned as demeaning to older people.
  • Do not portray poverty.
  • Do not show women cooking.
  • Do not show a cow’s udder (sexual innuendo).
  • Do not show churches, bars, liquor stores, adult theaters in drawings or photos.
  • Do not show a rainbow. (Gay agenda)
  • No holidays or holiday decorations.

Notice how politically correct expressions are expressions of “what is not.” It is not a hut. It is a small house. He is not an old man. He is an older person. Children are never disobedient. Men are not lawyers, doctors, or plumbers. There are no mountains. Cake does not exist. There are no jungles. There are no widows, or house wives or senile old people. And so on and on.

Interestingly, political correctness is conditioning all of us to think and speak in deficit. Notice how careful and hesitant our speech has become. We are extraordinarily careful to make sure the words we use cannot possibly be construed to offend anyone. Consequently, we are constantly thinking of what not to say, what words cannot be used, and what expressions should be avoided. We spend our time thinking of what we cannot say instead of thinking about what we should say. It has become safer and easier to talk about what things are not. There are no such things as “huts,” “jungles,” “cake,” “rainbows,” “poverty,” or “disobedient children.” Are there?

(Michael Michalko is a highly-acclaimed creativity expert and the author of Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques; Cracking Creativity: The Thinking Strategies of Creative Geniuses; Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck, and Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work. http://www.creativethinking.net)

 

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