Monitoring the Language Police

The University of New Hampshire’s Bias-Free Language Guide came in for widespread criticism earlier this week for possibly chilling speech by labeling words such as “American,” “illegal alien,” “foreigners,” “mothering,” and “fathering” as problematic and non-preferred.

Commendations are due, however, to university president Mark Huddleston. The UNH reports:

The associate vice president for community, equity and diversity removed the webpage this morning after a meeting with President Huddleston. The president fully supports efforts to encourage inclusivity and diversity on our campuses. He does not believe the guide was in any way helpful in achieving those goals. Speech guides or codes have no place at any American university.

Comments

And we're the people who came up with this nonsense removed from their positions? Not likely.

It is absolutely required that academics speak and write with clear secular liberal elitist bias.

So you want to sack people, for something they said and didn't do, in the name of free speech. Sounds legit.

How about in the name of fiduciary responsibility? Just what do the cretins who produced this 'guide' ordinarily do all day?

http://www.unh.edu/inclusive/welcome-associate-vice-president
Apparently she "develops and provides tailored diversity training, mediation/conflict resolution, and community development to public and private organizations."

I would sack a biology professor for claiming the earth is 6000 years old. Freedom of speech or not.
Those who came up with the Bias-Free Language Guide should be allowed to speak their beliefs, but should not be paid by the university to influence kids.

They did "do" something, not just speak freely without intimidation.

This deplorable speech-guide was formally issued by an official branch of the University Administration and thus has inherent authority. It was intended to directly influence individual faculty members in their primary duties of verbal communication.

If your employer gives you written guidance and recommendations on how to do various aspects of your job -- that employer action is inherently coercive, even though no specific enforcement mechanisms are included with the "guidance". Every employee knows there are probably negative consequences if you don't go along with the way your boss wants to do things.

Kinda like company dress codes issued as "guidance" with no explicit threats or punishments for non-compliance-- ignore them at your own risk.

"So you want to sack people, for something they said and didn’t do, in the name of free speech. Sounds legit. "

The sure as hell did do something. They issued a guide who's explicit purpose is restriction of speech on campus.

A university president with balls.

He was definitely a "[a person] of size," but not in the way that their Bias-Free Language Guide meant it.

Alex left off the best part of the University President's comment:

"While individuals on our campus have every right to express themselves, I want to make it absolutely clear that the views expressed in this guide are NOT the policy of the University of New Hampshire. I am troubled by many things in the language guide, especially the suggestion that the use of the term ‘American’ is misplaced or offensive. The only UNH policy on speech is that it is free and unfettered on our campuses. It is ironic that what was probably a well-meaning effort to be ‘sensitive’ proves offensive to many people, myself included."

— UNH President Mark W. Huddleston"

The President knows that it wasn't a well-meaning effort, but directly speaking out against this kind of coercive Political Correct doctrine is career suicide. So he threw in the word "probably" to signal that he didn't assume the effort was necessarily well-meaning.

No more using the word "problematic" without spelling out what the problem is.

The way the word is used is a good example of Orwell's "Crimestop" in action.

"Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity."

I a bit amazed at how spot on Orwell turned out to be with regards to language.

Damn, he's good. Thinking it over, however, I bet most people erect these kind of barriers around their narratives. Some kind of cognitive biases at work, I suspect.

In the past year or so, however, I have become less worried about the power of this kind of "crimestop" phenomenon taking over society. Wrong is wrong, Lysenko had a nice run, but...

If something is wrong, it is vulnerable, and it will ultimately be made to look ridiculous. Patience.

"If something is wrong, it is vulnerable, and it will ultimately be made to look ridiculous. Patience."

I'm hopeful that you are correct.

It's double-plus good.

Call me crazy, but chiggers are ruining this country, especially in the summertime when they hang out with nothing to do but annoy folk. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trombiculidae

No need for criticism. Americans have always been problematic and non-preferred among themselves.

Lolz associate vice president for community, equity, and diversity. Dissolve the universities.

Agreed. Dissolve the universities. No more student loans, grants or affirmative action. No more corrupt, filthy-stinking rich athletic departments. No more tenured Marxists putting the final layer of propaganda on young adults. No more "campus rape culture" because, no more campus. They can compete for customers and pay rent and taxes like everybody else.

This is why we can't have nice things.

how much do you figure that pays? I'm thinking $150k ish per year - plus staff and expenses.

This is her - http://www.unh.edu/inclusive/welcome-associate-vice-president.

Ironically, she has Bachelor's and Master's degrees in "American Studies."

She went to Wazzou? She totally cooged this

Chicano Studies? Is that back on the preferred list?

Hm, very problematic indeed. Surely there should be a separate associate vice president for community, associate vice president for equity, and associate vice president for diversity (with accompanying assistant associate vice presidents, vice presidents, and presidents for each).

One wonders what the speech code makes of the state motto: "live free or die". Presumably it is deemed problematic.

OK Alex, but shouldn't we have a statement on PC from you? Just three sentences.

In my case, I don't need three sentences, just an equation: PC = bullshit.

Did you not understand the meaning od Alex's title for the post and relate it to current events?

Good point with the title!

PC is awful, say white men. Next story reveals theological beliefs of Italian religious heads.

PC is awful, say any thinking person. As stated above, Orwell hit the nail on the head.

More Filipino and Central/South American you hateful bigot.

I love the constant attempts by the left to take my voice away and tell me I don't matter because of my race and gender. LOVE IT

"Speech guides or codes have no place at any American university." I agree. And that applies to both written and unwritten speech guides or codes; indeed, it applies even more strongly to unwritten speech guides or codes because enforcement of them can be hidden behind a smokescreen of denial of their existence. Do American universities have unwritten speech guides or codes?

Those who do their dirty work in secret are far more prevalent at American universities, and far more insidious, than the naive, misguided, and mostly harmless authors of a Bias-Free Language Guide.

Who are you talking about?

First thing I think of is all the secret sexual harassment trials on university campuses:

http://investigations.myajc.com/campusjudiciary/

but being the good liberal that he is, I am sure that this real secrecy is not what rayward is referring, he probably means some inferred white privilege or Koch brothers or whatever.

Absolutely right. My college not only enforced such a guide, but would actually dock points from essays if you didn't comply with. Damn ALWD Manual.

There were a lot of problematic words in that guide. I hope there was a trigger warning.

"community, equity and diversity": which?

I agree a university should not have a speech code, though I'm disappointed to see so many commenters making snide and snarky comments. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy snarky comments made between friends or on TV shows like Seinfeld - but do people really think doing it anonymously online to mock people they disagree with on certain issues is the best use of their time and energy? Is it more satisfying than engaging in more substantive discussion and debate?

I am genuinely curious.

So you think an online discussion of speech guidelines should be governed by speech guidelines?

@Hopaulius - governed? No, I don't think that, which is why I never said that. I said I'm disappointed with the snide and snarky comments. If you think that is me calling for the creation of some organization that will establish rules and then start enforcing them (that is what I generally consider "governing")- I would say that's an unfounded and unreasonable extrapolation.

@JWatts I'm not French, I'm American - and I still don't think making snarky comments about people and ideas you oppose is such a good use of time and worthwhile that we see this much of it on MR.

"@JWatts I’m not French, I’m American – and I still don’t think making snarky comments about people and ideas you oppose is such a good use of time and worthwhile that we see this much of it on MR."

Well everybody's entitled to their own opinion, but isn't it kind of silly to go around chiding people for wasting their time doing something that they obviously want to do? And clearly other readers enjoy the comments, since they get plenty of responses. Granted, I don't find all of the posters making snide comments enjoyable. Particularly the ones that just continuously repeat the same few points. However, my response is generally just to ignore them. It's a Free country after all.

There are plenty of substantive comments on these posts. Granted, most of them are short. But on the other hand, American tradition and law is firmly on the side of Free Speech. So most commenters probably don't feel the need to spend a lot of time with explicit legal and moral defenses of Free Speech.

If you are actually French, then it's probably a case of a cultural gap.

The people in favor of speech codes also tend to be people who reject evidence-based reasoning and rationality. Traditional argumentation against them is therefore useless. So snark is all that remains.

@Anon - interesting. Do you have evidence-based reasoning to back up that assertion? It'd be quite hypocritical if you didn't, given your accusations against "the people in favor of speech codes"

@JWatts - Well, you could say I was chiding, but I was also genuinely asking why people do this. And of course, the best people to answer that are the ones who do it. Maybe they get enormous enjoyment out of it and find it complements their highly fulfilling professional and personal lives. Maybe it's more like how smoking tobacco is for most people - they wish they could stop but they aren't able or willing to do so. I don't know.

I wouldn't say a country with our incarceration rate is a "Free country" - but of course I know what you mean, people are free to comment on blogs, and that's not something I have any disagreement with.

Comments for this post are closed