Right Column Redux: Journalism Books
There Are No Little Things 8: The Tasting

“Fun” with Language: U.S. Citizen

I am proud to be a U.S. citizen; apparently Tucker Carlson and The Right-Wing Nut Job (RWNT) media are not. They were pushed onto their fainting couches by the effort of a committee in the Computer Science department at Stanford to develop a list of suggested alternative terms. It isn’t done yet and isn’t official for all of Stanford, but you’d never know that from the conservative commentators who are suffering from the vapors, mostly over the entry suggesting U.S. citizen instead of American.

The rationale of the as-yet-uncompleted report: “This 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).”

Read for yourself the proposed list of terms to be avoided. (this downloads as a PDF file). Not banned, just a suggestion they be avoided, although you’d never know that if you lived on Tucker Carson Island in Foxland.

Are some of the entries overwoke, a bit much? Yes. Is it a violation of the first amendment? No. The constitution only applies to the government, not to private institutions. (If Tucker had been in my 8th grade US History class, he’d know that) And any case, a list of suggestions isn’t compromising anyone’s free-speech right.

I recall the LA Times (or was it the Washington Post) offering such a list to its newsroom a few years ago, generating some controversy which, as far as I can tell, has been scrubbed from the Internet.  If you can find it, let me know. I remember one of the “banned” terms was “Dutch Courage.”

On  the lighter side, NPR suggests some words to be banned, starting with Irregardless and including gaslighting.


Robert E. Malchman

All of this is right, on the one hand. On the other, it can be taken to such extremes that it turns off the people who need to hear about language that is hurtful to certain groups. If you refer to the heavy round thing in the middle of the street as a "personhole cover," you turn a reasonable request for common decency in language into a joke.

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