College campuses are supposed to be safe places where thoughts and ideas flow freely. Sadly, we know that on many campuses this freedom applies only to progressive ideas.
Now, there’s a movement afoot to sanitize vernacular on campus. We’re not talking about removing profanity or dirty words but terms that the vocabulary police say communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages
The “Inclusive Excellence Center” at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has launched a campaign called “Just Words” to "educate" and shame students away from using certain words or terms. The schools aims to rid campus of “microaggressions.” According to online definitions, these are verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults based upon race, ethnicity, gender, intelligence, socio-economic status, sexual reference and immigration status. If you hadn’t heard of the term before, you’re not alone.
In a LA Times op-ed entitled, “Microaggression, Macro Harm,” an NYU professors explains that one-off slights may be an “honest mistake,” but over time inflict “macro harm” by continuously reminding supposedly marginalized groups of their unequal position. She goes on to explain why victims should and must call out micro aggressions. In essence, microaggressions are defined slurs, derogatory terms, and bad names that may be used.
Terms like the n-word and slurs which refer to Asians or Jewish people are odious and people who use them deserve to be avoided. Any kid on campus using them in any context ought to wash his/her mouth out with soap. The same goes for making light of disabilities or mental development. And a polite person or one who won't brook such phrases is commendable. But this is not what is going on here.
Some of the banned phrases leave us scratching our heads.
· You can’t say “ghetto,” because you’re implying something or someone is “cheap, worn out, poor, dangerous, etc.” But ghettos are real places and poverty and crime do exist in them. Ride through the ghettos of Calcutta if you don’t believe me.
· Stop that talk of “welfare queens.” It assumes women living off government aid “are lazy and incapable of work” and “trivializes their lived experience” that could be due to illness, child support or discrimination. “Welfare queens?” Hello, U. of Wisconsin. 1994 called and wants this outdated term back. Who even says “welfare queen” anymore?
· When a man tries to shirk his responsibility or step up to get the job done, you better not tell him to “Man Up.” That signals there’s only one way to be a man and suggest that women can’t be courageous. Huh?
For all of this talk about ridding the campus of hurtful and hateful speech, the director of the Inclusive Excellence Center, may need to follow his own directions. Campus Reform calls him out for being hateful against Republican candidates on Twitter.
For a state-funded school we should ask some tough questions about the use of public funds for this campaign. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for anyone to pose the question, however. Here is their About Us–it is blank.