Stanford Goes Big Brother With A Newspeak List

That’s Isaac Asimov above, expressing his doubts that attempts at vocabulary restriction by totalitarians actually works.

I don’t think the ethical issue is whether efforts to “compress” language are successful. The issue is what the effort tells us about the people and institutions who make those efforts. The latest is Stanford University.

Stanford’s IT department released an list x of “harmful language” that it wants erased from the school’s websites, and, by extension, campus discourse.The list is an outgrowth of the “Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative,” which aims to “eliminate” words that may be deemed “racist, violent, and biased.”

The IT department’s censorious document is a mess, a mixture of apples, oranges and passion fruit. Some of the words and phrases marked as unacceptable are rude and archaic. Others are completely innocent as well as useful, condemned because they might have been used somewhere, sometime, by someone in a derogatory context.

I didn’t want to write another post on this, I really didn’t. But so many readers flagged it after it had gone into my “not worth the attention” file that I changed my mind. It’s almost insulting to have to explain why a list that advises, for example, that “American” is offensive because it “often refers to people from the United States only, thereby insinuating that the US is the most important country in the Americas” should be laughed out of existence (Sorry, Stanford, but the United States is the most important country in the Americas and everybody knows it, including the other countries). However, the fact that one of the most esteemed educational institutions is endorsing such extreme political correctness and contrived language censorship is something to heed. The list is an abuse of authority. It is signature significance for a group (I might say “tribe” but the word is harmful, apparently) that does not respect personal liberty, freedom of expression, or, ironically enough, diversity.

So in addition to mocking academics like this, and they ought to be mocked, watch out for them. Beware them. They are not friends of democracy, dissent, pluralism or language. They are definitely not fit to educate our young.

I’ll leave you with a few more “highlights” of the list:

  • Banned word: Hispanic
    Use instead: Latinx
    Justification: “Although widely used to describe people from Spanish-speaking countries outside ofSpain, its roots lie in Spain’s colonization of South American countries. Instead of referring to someone as Hispanic because of their name or appearance, ask them how they identify themselves first.”

Sure. Bite me.

  • Banned phrase: Indian summer
    Use instead: Late summer
    Justification: “This term infers that Indigenous people are chronically late. While it may be innocently used to describe a beautiful time of year, it could have an unintended negative impact on those who hear it.”

Wow. They really had to stretch for that one.

  • Banned word: stupid
    Use instead: boring, uncool
    Justification: “Once used to describe a person who could not speak and implied the person was incapable of expressing themselves..”

But the word now is used to mean “stupid,” which everyone understands. For example, Kamala Harris isn’t boring or uncool.

  • Banned word: user
    Use instead: client (Can you believe this?)
    Justification: “While oft en associated with one who uses (soft ware, systems, services), it can also negatively be associated with those who suff er from substance abuse issues or those whoexploit others for their own gain.”

Ah. So I’m not a “user” of  ethics analysis, but a client of ethics analysis.

  • Banned phrased: brown bag
    Use instead: “Lunch and learn”
    Justification: “Historically associated with the “brown paper bag test” that certain Black sororities and fraternities used to judge skin color. Those whose skin color was darker than the brown bag were not allowed to join.”

Gee, and I thought that “brown bag” lunch sessions were so called because employees brought their lunch in brown paper bags.

I realize that this could be a great parlor game. Give the banned word or phrase, then try to guess why the censors find it harmful! Fun! For example…

Banned word: grandfather. Well, what’s your guess?

Time’s up!

The answer: “This term has its roots in the “grandfather clause” adopted by Southern states to deny voting rights to Blacks.”

Uh, no, Stanford. “Grandfather” was a word long, long before blacks had any voting rights. Go hide your collective heads under brown paper bags. You embarrass yourself, academia, and the nation..



Justification: “This term can unintentionally raise religious/moral concerns over abortion.”

17 thoughts on “Stanford Goes Big Brother With A Newspeak List

  1. Banning “stupid” is stupid. But “grandfather”? “Brown bag”? These surpass credulity. This is all a big psych experiment, and we’re all the subjects right? Right?

  2. Can we call declaring a word unacceptable is “Stanfordizing”? Then we just “Stanfordize” words that are used by the left. And then they will be in the awkward position of having to Stanfordize the word Stanford and all its derivatives because it will represent suppression of their language.

  3. I’ve never heard of the brown paper bag test. But wait! It was used by black fraternities and sororities? I thought that blacks, by definition, could not be racist so how could they possibly have used such a racist test?

    p.s. I have a box of brown paper bags in the pantry. Guess what? I used them to take my lunch to work in. I never knew peanut butter sandwiches were racist, but I guess you learn something every day.

    • You jest, but peanut butter sandwiches have been known racist for a decade now.

      https://www.semissourian.com/forums/speakout/thread/7339

      Jest, is of course short for Jester, a professional fool of a governing administration from the medievel era (which also applies to Kamela) so I guess it’ll have to be striked from further use too.

      And we can’t have strike used either, since early labor disputes were bloody affairs that often involved racial strife.

      Same goes for affair, we can’t use language that had been used to judge people who have made sexuality decisions more expressive than monogamy.

      Judge is a word clearly related to the government appointed authority that is directly responsible for disparate sentencing and the resulting generational poverty.

      Poverty is a term used to describe the daily lives of people the government hasn’t helped enough. No bueno.

      Government is the single institution responsible for the democide of hundreds of millions of people in the 20th century. I’ll simply shut up now.

  4. Stanford’s, er, president, is under investigation for falsifying data in his thesis. There’s an article in the Stanford Daily. Nice.

    Of course, my college’s president was canned for using material he found online in a speech without any attribution. There was a surprising amount of effort exerted by various trustees to give the guy the King’s Pass, which failed. Praise Allah. Of course, the school is now totally in the woke toilet.

  5. ” On a pleasant Indian summer evening, my Hispanic grandfather saw his friend stupidly drink his cheap wine covered with the brown bag he obtained as a user of the liquor store.” or
    ” On a late summer, early autumn evening my Latinex paternal-sided ancestor saw his friend being an uncool client at a boring lunch and learn about the bastardization of his beloved Spanish language.”

  6. IT department? Everyone who knows IT people know they are uh… socially awkward as a whole… and can be very stupid.

    hahaha, my coding partner will LOVE this!! hahahahha. he uesd to be offended at everything even when I misspelled his girlfriends name!

    HILARIOUS!

  7. If I tell someone they are being neuro-divergent what difference does it make if I use that term or just call the m a retard. A slur is slur and by any other name is just as sweet.

    The point is that a word is just a word and context matters. What happens when these artificial pronoun references such as xir or xim become co-opted to become slurs? Most of the slurs are acronyms or made up terms so we can make anything a slur if you can get widespread use of it as a slur.

  8. I is for Information. That’s okay. Information can be helpful, even amusing. T is for Technology. That’s okay too. Technology can be helpful in making Information ACCESSIBLE. It (or IT) is not at all helpful when it is transmitting something it thinks it figured out for itself.

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