Commentary

Brent Bozell: Beware the 'Inclusive Language' Minefield

By L. Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham | July 19, 2019 | 4:53am EDT
Don't call it a "manhole" anymore!! (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

In the most liberal cities in America, the goal of maximum "inclusion" often requires an energetic scrubbing of language, especially gender terms. This week in California, the Berkeley City Council voted to amend its municipal code to achieve maximum sensitivity for the ever-increasing demands of the gender-smashing left.

A council member explained, "In recent years, broadening societal awareness of transgender and gender nonconforming identities has brought to light the importance of non-binary gender inclusivity." It was high time to "make the environment of City Hall and the language of city legislation consistent with the principles of inclusion."

Some of the allegedly offensive terms are unsurprising. Apparently, there's no excuse for "fireman," "patrolman," "policeman" and "watchman." But the council is even scrubbing the word "manhole" and replacing it with "maintenance hole." Patriarchy doesn't rest on the word "manhole." The level of snowflakery on this one is impressive.

Berkeley's language cops reject the term "master," instead insisting on terms like "captain," "skipper" or "pilot." Let's hope the University of California doesn't have to change "master's degree" to "skipper's degree." The council also objects to the word "heir," preferring the term "beneficiaries." But there's no gender reference in "heirs." The dictionary definition is "a person legally entitled to the property or rank of another on that person's death."

There were other terms on the Berkeley list that suggest the end of gender specificity. "Brother" and "sister" should be rejected for "sibling," and "fraternity" and "sorority" must be replaced with "collegiate Greek system residence."

College campuses are especially fertile ground for this kind of speech "correction" exercise:

The website Campus Reform reports that Colorado State University's latest Inclusive Language Guide rejects gender-specific terms like "male," "female," "ladies and gentlemen" and "Mr./Mrs./Ms." It even objects to the term "freshman" as gendered. Perhaps next it will find "sophomore" offensive, since "sophomoric" is a pejorative term and could damage emotional well-being.

You can't say "homosexual," and you must say "heterosexual" because calling someone "straight" implies that LGBT folks are "crooked."

The most noticeable dictate in the Colorado State list is the scolding of "American" and "America" as noninclusive words "to avoid," since America encompasses more than just the United States. Referring to the U.S. as America, the guide says, "erases other cultures and depicts the United States as the dominant American country." Which, of course, it is.

The following terms are all categorized as insensitive to African Americans: "cakewalk," "eenie meenie miney moe," "food coma" and "peanut gallery." Asian Americans might be offended by "long time no see," because it might sound like "Chinese pidgin English," as well as "no can do."

"Hip hip hooray!" is somehow a Holocaust reference, so it's out. "Starving" is offensive to people who are insecure about food. Saying you're "addicted" to something like Netflix or pizza is insensitive to "those who are truly experiencing drug addiction." Please don't use "basket case," since that used to refer to a person without limbs. "Hold down the fort" is offensive to Indians — whoops, make that Native Americans. But wait; can we say Native Americans ?

All this hypersensitivity would make almost anyone want to get their college degree online.

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.

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