The Euphemism Conquers All

A euphemism is

a generally innocuous word or expression used in place of one that may be found offensive or suggest something unpleasant….

The market in euphemisms has been cornered by politically correct leftists, who can’t confront reality and wish to erect a fantasy in its place. A case in point is a “bias-free language guide” that was posted on the website of the University of New Hampshire in 2013 and stayed there until today. The guide disappeared after Mark Huddleston, the university’s president, issued this statement:

While individuals on our campus have every right to express themselves, I want to make it absolutely clear that the views expressed in this guide are NOT the policy of the University of New Hampshire. I am troubled by many things in the language guide, especially the suggestion that the use of the term ‘American’ is misplaced or offensive. The only UNH policy on speech is that it is free and unfettered on our campuses. It is ironic that what was probably a well-meaning effort to be ‘sensitive’ proves offensive to many people, myself included. [as quoted in “University President Offended by Bias-Free Language Guide,” an Associated Press story published in USA Today, July 30, 2015]

The same story adds some detail about the contents of the guide:

One section warns against the terms “older people, elders, seniors, senior citizens.” It suggests “people of advanced age” as preferable, though it notes that some have “reclaimed” the term “old people.” Other preferred terms include “person of material wealth” instead of rich, “person who lacks advantages that others have” instead of poor and “people of size” to replace the word overweight.

There’s more from another source:

Saying “American” to reference Americans is also problematic. The guide encourages the use of the more inclusive substitutes “U.S. citizen” or “Resident of the U.S.”

The guide notes that “American” is problematic because it “assumes the U.S. is the only country inside [the continents of North and South America].” (The guide doesn’t address whether or not the terms “Canadians” and “Mexicans” should be abandoned in favor of “Residents of Canada” and “Residents of Mexico,” respectively.)

The guide clarifies that saying “illegal alien” is also problematic. While “undocumented immigrant” is acceptable, the guide recommends saying “person seeking asylum,” or “refugee,” instead. Even saying “foreigners” is problematic; the preferred term is “international people.”

Using the word “Caucasian” is considered problematic as well, and should be discontinued in favor of “European-American individuals.” The guide also states that the notion of race is “a social construct…that was designed to maintain slavery.”

The guide also discourages the use of “mothering” or “fathering,” so as to “avoid gendering a non-gendered activity.”

Even saying the word “healthy” is problematic, the university says. The “preferred term for people without disabilities,” the university says, is “non-disabled.” Similarly, saying “handicapped” or “physically-challenged” is also problematic. Instead, the university wants people to use the more inclusive “wheelchair user,” or “person who is wheelchair mobile.”

Using the words “rich” or “poor” is also frowned upon. Instead of saying “rich,” the university encourages people to say “person of material wealth.” Rather than saying a person is “poor,” the university encourages its members to substitute “person who lacks advantages that others have” or “low economic status related to a person’s education, occupation and income.”

Terms also considered problematic include: “elders,” “senior citizen,” “overweight” (which the guide says is “arbitrary”), “speech impediment,” “dumb,” “sexual preference,” “manpower,” “freshmen,” “mailman,” and “chairman,” in addition to many others. [Peter Hasson, “Bias-Free Language Guide Claims the Word ‘American’ Is ‘Problematic’,” Campus Reform, July 28, 2015]

And more, from yet another source:

Problematic: Opposite sex. Preferred: Other sex.

Problematic: Homosexual. Preferred: Gay, Lesbian, Same Gender Loving

Problematic: Normal … healthy or whole. Preferred: Non-disabled.

Problematic/Outdated: Mothering, fathering. Preferred: Parenting, nurturing. [Jennifer Kabbany, “University’s ‘Bias-Free Language Guide’ Criticizing Word ‘American’ Prompts Shock, Anger,” The College Fix, July 30, 2015

The UNH students who concocted the guide — and the thousands (millions?) at other campuses who think similarly — must find it hard to express themselves clearly. Every word must be weighed before it is written or spoken, for fear of giving offense to a favored group or implying support of an idea, cause, institution, or group of which the left disapproves. (But it’s always open season on “fascist, capitalist pigs.”)

Gee, it must be nice to live in a fantasy world, where reality can be obscured or changed just by saying the right words. Here’s a thought for the fantasists of the left: You don’t need to tax, spend, and regulate Americans until they’re completely impoverished and subjugated. Just say that it’s so — and leave the rest of us alone.

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Related posts:

Intellectuals and Society: A Review
“Intelligence” As a Dirty Word
Ruminations on the Left in America
On Writing

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3 comments

  1. The good thing is that the more absurd PC pseudo-language becomes the more self-defeating it is. I have read about how various protected classes are so hyper-sensitive that they now offending one another. Delightful.

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  2. I’d like to add “differently symboled” for those who can’t pass a simple math course and “differently grammared” for those who can’t write well. And let us not forget those who “don’t test well.” I met many of those in my life as a professor. I wonder how many courses in “critical thinking” were taken by the authors of that language guide.

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