(Just Don’t) Say Anything

Jonathan Chait has a good piece at the Atlantic documenting the University of New Hampshire’s new rules of politically correct speech.  It is very appropriately called “Everything is Problematic.”

While I do think educators should try to avoid using hurtful or stereotypical speech, UNH’s new guidelines would have me so worried that I think I would be terrified to say anything in the classroom.  Here are some examples of words and expressions that should not be used, along with their preferred replacements:

1. Older people, elders, seniors, senior citizen (People of advanced age)

2. Poor person (person living at or below the poverty line, people experiencing poverty). Likewise, don’t say “rich,” say instead person of material wealth.

3. Obese, overweight (people of size).  Really, UNH? People of size?  don’t all people have size by definition?

These new guidelines also seem like they would lead to passive, roundabout ways of speaking that hinder clear communication.  Just hearing things like “person of material wealth” would make my eyes glaze over as a student.

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