The University of New Hampshire recently published (and later retracted) a “bias-free language guide” that reads like an Orwellian manual on newspeak. The guide highlights ‘problematic’ terms and ‘inclusive language’ while providing students ‘suggestions’ for better “communication that does not stereotype or demean people based on personal characteristics.”
Some of the ‘problematic’ terms listed include otherwise innocuous words such as ‘American’, ‘foreigners’, ‘seniors’, and ‘obese.’ (The guide instead recommends using, respectively, ‘U.S. citizen’, ‘international people’, ‘persons of advanced age’, and ‘people of size.’) Also ‘problematic’ are words such as ‘rich’ and ‘poor.’ If you’re a college student who ever attends a campus protest on income inequality, be sure that your posters read “tax the persons of material wealth” and “feed the people who are living at or below the poverty level.”
With far too many college campuses becoming so politically-correct, it’s no wonder that many comedians are refusing to perform there. If there was one comedian who would absolutely refuse to perform (or rather, be prevented from performing) at colleges these days, it would be the legendary George Carlin. Forget his “seven words you can’t say on television.” If New Hampshire’s language guide is any indicator, his entire vocabulary would bar him from performing on campus.
Old George would have taken offense at the “bias-free language” guide. He never cared for such political correctness, or what he referred to as ‘euphemistic’ or ‘soft’ language. He felt such language only concealed reality and sheltered people from the truth.
“American English,” he said, “is packed with euphemism because Americans have trouble dealing with reality; and in order to shield themselves from it, they use soft language, and somehow, it gets worse with every generation.”
By sheltering people from harsh realities, such ‘euphemistic language’ drained certain issues of any emotion or empathy. One such example Old George cited was the condition in combat that occurs when soldiers are completely stressed out and on the verge of nervous collapse, explaining how the term for the condition evolved from ‘shell shock’ to ‘battle fatigue’ to ‘operational exhaustion’ to its current term ‘post-traumatic stress disorder.’ This evolution only managed to bury the pain of the condition in meaningless jargon, thus squeezing the humanity out of the term. “I'll bet you if we'd have still been calling it ‘shell shock’,” Carlin argued, “Some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time.”
Rather than being a shield for the powerless, euphemistic language is more often employed as a bludgeon by the powerful to enforce their political agendas. Ever noticed how many terms for hot button political issues have been changed over the years, often in favor of the politicians and political pundits who use them?
For example, ‘torture practices’ such as waterboarding are referred to as ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’, ‘subsidies’ to ‘corporations’ are now referred to as ‘economic stimulus’ to ‘job creators’, and of course, Obamacare’s ‘individual mandate’ isn’t a ‘fine’ for people who refuse to buy healthcare: it’s a ‘tax penalty’!
As Newspeak helped Ingsoc maintain its power in Orwell’s 1984 by perverting language to fits its agenda (“War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength”), so too does political correctness help the politically powerful in our own country by fooling ignorant voters, or rather ‘low-information voters’, as is the more politically-correct term.
As Carlin elucidated:
'Poor people' used to live in 'slums', now the 'economically-disadvantaged' occupy 'substandard housing' in 'inner-cities.' And, a lot of them are broke. They don’t have 'negative cash flow'; they’re broke, because many of them were fired. In other words, 'management wanted to curtail redundancies in the human resources area.' And, so, many workers are 'no longer viable members of the work force.'
Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins. It’s as simple as that. The CIA doesn’t kill anybody, the neutralize people or they depopulate an area. The government doesn’t lie, it engages in 'disinformation'. The pentagon actually measures nuclear radiation in something called, ‘Sunshine Units.’ Israeli murderers are called 'commandos.' Arab commandos are called 'terrorists.' The contra killers were known as 'freedom fighters.' Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire-fighters fight fire, what do 'freedom fighters' fight?