Bias Free Language Guide

Chiseled in Granite

If there remained any “doubts” that academia is among the most “thoughtless” places in the cosmos, the University of New Hampshire just put them to “rest” once and for all.

The “breathtaking” political correctness embodied by UNH’s recently released, “Bias-Free Language Guide” (BFLG), proves that higher “education” has become a one-dimensional “caricature” of itself.

Indeed, right-wing “reactionaries” couldn’t have done a better job in “calling” attention to the intellectual and “moral” shallowness and the remarkable “lack” of seriousness of academia.

And before anyone “objects” that the entire academic establishment shouldn’t be “judged” on the basis of the actions of one school, it should be “borne” in mind that the zeitgeist expressed by UNH’s latest de facto “speech code” is one and the same left-wing “orthodoxy” that has long achieved a “stranglehold” over the university.

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The BFLG “is meant to serve as a starting point” in rethinking “terms related to age, race, class, ethnicity, nationality, gender, ability, sexual orientation and more” for the purpose of promoting “inclusive excellence in our campus community.”

In short, words that are infected with “bias” are “problematic” or “outdated;” those that are alleged to be “bias-free” are “preferred.”

“People of advanced age” and “old people” are preferred. Terms like “older people,” “elders,” “seniors,” and “senior citizen” are problematic and outdated.

Yes, believe it or not, “old people” has been reclaimed by some older activists who believe the standard wording of old people lacks the stigma of the term “advanced age.” Moreover, the term “old people” also halts “the euphemizing of age.” The latter is bad because in “euphemizing,” we assume that “age is a negative.”

“Poor person” and “person from the ghetto” are problematic and outdated. In contrast, “person who lacks advantages that others have” and “low economic status related to a person’s education, occupation and income” are preferable.

Wow. If “poor person” is now a Politically Incorrect term, then it would appear that “no” word is safe.

Indeed. Even use of the word “homeless” reflects insensitivity on the part of the user. The BFLG explains that “homeless” reduces the person to being “defined by their housing rather than as a person first.”

Instead, “homeless” should give way to “person-experiencing homelessness.”

“Obese” and “overweight” are offensive descriptors: the former is “the medicalization of size” while the latter is “arbitrary.” Even “fat” is on its way to being preferable to either of these terms, for some “people of size”—the preferred term of choice—and “their allies” have “reclaimed” it.

“Non-disabled” is preferred to “able-bodied” and “normal.”

“Person who is blind/visually impaired” is preferable to “blind person.”

“U.S. citizen” or “resident of the U.S.” is preferable to “American,” for the latter “usually…fails to recognize South America.”

“Foreigners” should be rejected in favor of “international people.”

“Illegal alien” and “illegal” fail to affirm the humanity of those in question. But even “undocumented immigrant or shadow worker,” though generally preferable to the alternative, isn’t wholly successful in recognizing “the person’s humanity first.”

“Sexual preference” is bad because it suggest that “being gay or lesbian is voluntary and therefore curable.” On the other hand, “sexual orientation” and “sexual identity” are good.

“Homosexual” is out; “gay, lesbian, same gender-loving (SGL)” is in.

Alternative “lifestyle” is unacceptable in that it has been “used by anti-gay extremists to denigrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lives.” “LGBTQ” is the only appropriate term here.

“Parenting” and “nurturing” are “non-gendered” activities. Thus, only if “gender is specifically implied” is it permissible to use the otherwise problematic terms of “mothering” and “fathering.”

“Opposite sex” is offensive and insensitive. “Other sex” is more inclusive.

These are just some of the “revisions” to our language that the “BFLG” suggests. It also identifies a number of “micro-aggressions” like the “micro-assault,” the “micro-insult,” and the “micro-invalidation.”

A micro-assault is what the guide refers to as a “verbal attack.” The example used is that of one person who, upon encountering another “using a mobile chair for long distance travel,” questions the latter about his or her ability to walk.

This is a micro-assault.

A micro-insult is “a form of verbal or silent demeaning through insensitive comments or behavior,” and a micro-invalidation consists in “degrading a person’s wholeness through making false assumptions about the other’s ability, causing a sense of invalidation.”

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UNH President, Mark W. Huddleston, insists that the “BFLG” is not school policy. He also claims to be “troubled by many of the things in the language guide, especially the suggestion that the use of the term ‘American’ is misplace or offensive.”

Whether Huddleston is “sincere” on this score, or whether he “realized” that the language guide released by the “institution” over which he presides is getting some “bad press,” the BFLG, he concedes, is “offensive to many, myself included,” is anyone’s guess.

However, given his subsequent comment that “the only NHU policy on speech is that it is free and unfettered on our campus,” Huddleston sounds as “self-delusional” as the authors of the guide who see their work as an “intellectual” achievement.

“Universities are places to look at the world in new ways,” they write in their introduction. “As a university organization, we care about the life of the mind.”

As this little guide to “bias-free language” makes clear, this is “self-delusion of epic grandeur.”

Far from being “places to look at the world in new ways,” universities generally, and, evidently, the University of New Hampshire specifically, “encourage” students to look at the world in the same, “old, unadventurous” ways that they have imbibed from the larger culture, a “Politically Correct,” left-of-center culture for which most “contemporary” academics insist upon being “apologists.”

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Maybe UNH really does “care” for “the life of the mind” by dominating and controlling the “minds” of its students.

The Bias-Free Language Guide – Gone But Not Forgotten

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