The University of Michigan has a department called Information and Technology Services. And that department has a “Words Matter Task Force.” And that task force recently put out a lengthy memorandum containing a long list of words and phrases that it has deemed offensive…and suggested words and phrases to replace them. The memorandum, obtained by The College Fix, states: “To effectively communicate with customers, it is important for ITS to evaluate the terms and language conventions that may hinder effective communication, harm morale, and deliberately or inadvertently exclude people from feeling accepted to foment a healthy and inclusive culture.” Yes, you can feel our culture getting healthier by the day!
The memo touches on the naming of artifacts, cultural development within Information and Technology Services, the creation of an advisory board, and a list of steps to be taken next. Words and phrases that could “harm morale” include “crack the whip,” IT terms such as “blacklist,” “whitelist,” and “privileged account,” “spokesman,” and “chairman.” Or any word with the term “man” embedded in it, obviously. We are to substitute “person” instead. “Gyp” is beyond the pale (is that phrase forbidden, too?) as well, as it is, apparently, a derivative of “gypsy.” Nor are we to use the words “crazy,” “dummy,” or “sanity check.” Their Task Force approved substitutes are “unthinkable,” “placeholder,” and “coherence check,” respectively. Words such as “crippled” and “handicapped” are to be replaced by “weakened” and “restricted.” And “grandfathered in” is also taboo, just as it is now in other educational institutions, whether it somehow be considered racist, ageist, or both.
Incredibly, “picnic” made the verboten list too, though no one really seems to know why. The word has no known racist, bigoted, or otherwise untoward origins or connotations. Yet the Task Force advises the use of “gathering” instead. (Even though “gatherings” are problematic in the COVID Era.)
The memo doesn’t explicitly address what will happen to employees and others who do not abide by its guidelines and mandates. We don’t know if they will simply be shunned or admonished, or if they will lose their jobs, forfeit their firstborn sons or daughters—or be summarily shot. Policing language is oddly in vogue in 2020, when all other forms of policing are considered racist and counterproductive by the academic elite. The communication also proudly proclaims: “To bring moments in which inclusive language should have been used to a real-life perspective, we want to create educational animations/short videos for ITS staff to learn more about why these issues are important.” Which they did, noting that the videos would utilize stick figures they call “neutral characters,” so as not to offend the overly thin.
The woke message goes on to describe additional new ways for organizational development to adhere to critical standards of diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI.
Saying that “words matter” as
you ban their use and strip them of their meaning is
Oh well, spending every minute of every day looking for ways to be offended can’t be a picnic.