Stanford's Bad Words – West Virginia MetroNews

Words do matter, and we engage in an ongoing process of retiring certain words and adding new ones. Often words become taboo because they are offensive. That is appropriate because of our desire to be considerate of others. Good for us.
But in the case of Stanford University, that effort turned into a woke brainstorming session with absurd results. The Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative’s goal is to “eliminate many forms of harmful language (in University code and websites), including racist, violent, and biased.”
That sounds perfectly reasonable… until you look at the list.  It includes more than 150 words and phrases that should be avoided, and suggested replacements. In fairness, some of the suggestions make sense.
For example, the word “retard” to describe a person with a cognitive disability. Most would agree that word, when used as a noun, is a pejorative way of describing a person with an intellectual disability.
West Virginians may appreciate that “hillbilly” be replaced by “person from the Appalachian or Ozark regions of the United States.”  No one of mixed ethnicity would want to be called a “half-breed,” and it is insulting to suggest that in bargaining you have “Jewed” down someone.
These and a few others on the list are obvious, but it never hurts to remind people of what words can be hurtful and why. But the crafters of the list then got carried away. Here are examples.
“American” should be replaced by “US Citizen.” The rationale is that the term “often refers to people from the United States only, thereby insinuating that the US is the most important country in the Americas (which is actually made up of 42 countries.)”
Stanford ignores that “America” is in the name of our country, and the fact that the United States IS the most important country in the Americas.
“Submit” made the no-no list. It should be replaced because “Depending on the context, the term can imply allowing others to have power over you.” Here is breaking news: Some people do, in fact, have power over others—supervisors, teachers, administrators, coaches, parents, judges, police officers. The list goes on and on.
“White paper” should be replaced with “position paper” because white paper “assigns value connotations based on color (white=good), “an act which is subconsciously racialized.” And naturally “white space” falls into the same category. (White Christmas, thankfully, did not make the list.)
“Walk-in,” as in the barber shop accepts walk-ins, is “ableist language that trivializes the experiences of people living with disabilities and “gentlemen” is too masculine and gender binary.
And on it goes.
Attempting to educate people about the potential impact of words is appropriate, especially as our cultural norms evolve.  Unfortunately, the Stanford list is so absurd that it cannot be taken seriously.
 
 

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