Dr. Larry Burris, MTSU Professor of Journalism
Life used to be so easy. Some 40 years ago comedian George Carlin told us there were only seven dirty words you couldn’t say on radio. Now, thanks to the New York City Department of Education there is a list of more than 50 words we shouldn’t use.
Here are just some of the words school officials are trying to ban: dinosaurs, home computer, hurricane, birthday, dancing, all forms of religious holidays, including Christmas, Yom Kippur and Ramadan, and politics. And why are the words being banned: because the school chancellor says they might upset some of the children taking standardized tests.
So let me see if I understand this: New York City schools are going to teach history and social studies and do it without mentioning politics. And they are somehow going to teach about weather and not mention hurricanes.
Of course, every one of the words on the list is routinely found in books, literature and newspapers. So maybe the chancellor who dreamed up this idea is going to ban books, literature and newspapers from the school as well.
Speaking of books, we all know of lots of books that have been banned, including dictionaries, which by their very nature are loaded with offensive words. But this is the first time I can think of an entire list of apparently innocuous words that has been declared off limits.
Once again, we have political correctness run amuck. So let’s see what else we should ban: everything dealing with cars because some people can’t afford them, and they cause pollution. We shouldn’t teach English because it might offend immigrants. We probably need to completely leave out history because I can’t think of anything historical that doesn’t offend someone.
So here’s a thought, maybe all of the real teachers in the New York City school system should an essay, and see which students can coherently use the most words on the list in a 500 word essay.