Problematically Correct

…but getting married soon…
There’s a tyranny of forced sensitivity, alive and well in a pleasantly cocooned part of North America. I refer, of course, to the wonderfully liberal, inclusive and welcoming University of New Hampshire – surely home to multitudes of young persons, eager to join the well-meaning throngs of the socially and politically aware. The website positively shouts inclusiveness. If you are lesbian, gay, queer, trans, not sure or even mildly interested in being any or all of the above, there’s a place for you. After a series of (probably minor) protests, they have recently removed from their site  the  somewhat tautologous “Bias-Free Language Guide”, where words like “American,” “illegal alien,” “foreigners,” “mothering,” and “fathering” are deemed “problematic”.  By this, one assumes that somebody, somewhere might be slightly offended by the use of such outrageously provocative terms. According to the university’s website, the guide “is meant to invite inclusive excellence in [the] campus community.” Leaving out, just for a moment, the fact  that the sentence as written is meaningless, what can possibly be so very precious about people’s sensitivities that they are not able to deal emotionally with having their feathers ruffled a little bit? I rather imagined that part of the purpose of higher education was to learn to listen to disagreeable points of view. What’s worse, the neutering of language robs much dialogue of the robustness necessary to bring a point home. Resorting to beige, nondescript and damply meek wording only subtracts from the dialectic, hardly ever adding to it.
The guide defines words such as “homosexual” as “problematic,” offering “Same Gender Loving” as a more inclusive substitute.  What a shame that people feel it no longer necessary to learn classical languages, since if they did so, they’d realise that the substitute term means something rather different to the original. Similarly, a lack of gender-neutral bathrooms is, according to the university, “ciscentrism.” Doesn’t everyone use the one with the shortest queue?
There’s a big, wide difference between a deliberate, gratuitously offensive remark or form of words chosen precisely because the speaker wants to do some damage and a figure of speech used with no malicious intent and I’m tired of the endless tiptoeing around people’s real or imagined sore spots.

Oh dear. So it’s not OK to call someone a nigga? Even as a term of affection? Even if they are one?
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One thought on “Problematically Correct

  1. Having come of age in an era when “Politically Correct” speech was first introduced (on the left coast of the US far from the WASP sensitivities that created this recent monster) I have learned to accept these kinds of manifestos as little more than a reflection of the world that the founders of this philosophy were raised in. The attempt to put people with alternative lifestyles into the same category as the victims of ethnic or religious bigotry, slavery or genocide is at best myopic and at worst a totalitarian attack on freedom of speech and by extension opinion. I do like the fact, however, that pushing the envelope as these groups do makes the most uptight and reactionary in our society squirm. Rarely does any of this ever really result in anything more than a footnote in some Uni handbook….The US Supreme Court has settled matters for the moment so the energy that brought many to the ballot for Obama may wane in the next election. Should the current clown car of Republicans win (or steal) victory in the 2016 Presidential race we may see a purge of these policies as “Merica” fights back.

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