There is tact, and then there is over-the-top, bureaucratic-nonsense, political-correctness. The New York City Board of Education clearly demonstrated the latter recently. They put out tenders for the printing of new standardized student tests. In an attempt to ensure that none of their students get their little feelings hurt, there was a list of 50 words/thoughts that could not be included, lest someone be offended.
Here is the complete list of words that they believe should be banned.
- Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological)
- Alcohol (beer and liquor), tobacco, or drugs
- Birthday celebrations (and birthdays)
- Bodily functions
- Cancer (and other diseases)
- Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes)
- Children dealing with serious issues
- Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia)
- Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting)
- Death and disease
- Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes
- Gambling involving money
- Homes with swimming pools
- Junk food
- In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge
- Loss of employment
- Nuclear weapons
- Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
- Rap Music
- Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
- Rock-and-Roll music
- Running away
- Television and video games (excessive use)
- Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)
- Vermin (rats and roaches)
- War and bloodshed
- Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
- Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.
Incidentally, I notice that one of the words on the list is pornography. The chancellor has offered no explanation for how schools will avoid including this term on standardized tests considering it is part of the middle school curriculum.
The tests can’t refer to the number of birthday or Christmas presents Mary got, because Jews and Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas and Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate birthdays. I see they didn’t include weather. Presumably we can still discuss that. Dinosaurs can’t be mentioned, because that assumes evolution. Expensive presents and homes with pools would depress the financially downtrodden. References to homelessness, job loss and poverty would just rub their noses in it.
I’m all for not offending the next guy, but this just seems to take it to the level of absurd. This is George Orwell’s 1984. If there isn’t a word to describe it, the concept doesn’t exist. If either the potential offender, or the possibly offended actually knew what they were talking about, I might accept the concept, but neither does.
I worked with a young Jehovah’s Witness. Shortly before Mother’s Day the inspector on the line asked him what he was doing for his mother. “We don’t celebrate mothers. We celebrate Jesus. We do what the Bible tells us to do.” One of the important passages in the Bible, perhaps THE most important, The Ten Commandments, orders us to, Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother! Surely this applies to Jehovah’s Witnesses, as much as to the rest of us.
We can’t make it a nice world, just by wishing it so. It would be nice if bad guys didn’t have, and use, guns. Canada is still busy taking guns away from responsible owners. A .22 calibre varmint rifle has been declared a dangerous weapon, and all of these guns sold in the last twenty years must be turned in to police, with no compensation. The reason is, that they were designed to look like an AK47, and AK47s, by Government definition, are evil.
Seventeen states passed legislation allowing concealed carry for handguns. Canadian pundits almost had a bird. The words Hell, and hand basket, were bandied freely. Two years later, gun-related crimes in those states are down an average of thirty-seven percent. When the bad guys don’t know whether or not a potential victim might lethally fight back, they’re not so likely to commit a crime.
I don’t feel that the school system is doing students any favors when they pass them on to the next grade, even though they didn’t achieve the required marks. They don’t want to make the students feel like failures. Check the definition. They are failures! Better to find out now, than when the boss asks, Do you have that report finished? and you reply, Well, I’ve got some of it done. Do you want fries with that? Damn it Hopkins, the customer ordered onion rings.
If an inner-city black youth is not told about the existence of a $17,000,000 mansion, he is still stuck in poverty, and maybe, he thinks there’s nothing better. If he finds out that other people live better, he has something to aspire to. These words and ideas will exist whether kids are told about them or not. I feel that there should be short-term pain for long-term resistance and health. Like germs, continual, light exposure can produce immunity. Remember, the ostrich with his head stuck in the sand, can still get it stuck up his….Ask me if I still feel this way in five years.