A few days ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that:
Stanford University administrators in May published an index of forbidden words to be eliminated from the school’s websites and computer code, and provided inclusive replacements to help re-educate the benighted.
Actually, exploring the list is intellectually painful. While I’m all in favor of avoiding the use of genuinely offensive terms, Stanford’s list assumes extreme fragility on behalf of pretty much everyone. I find this assumption insulting, but perhaps I’m not adequately representative of, or in touch with, public opinion.
In light of these debates about what we can and cannot say these days, the New York Times has a piece trying to figure out how people feel about it all.
According to Pew, a majority of Americans believe there isn’t any agreement on what language is considered sexist or racist of late, with the boundaries seemingly ever shifting.
It’s something we’ve all experienced, perhaps more so over the holidays — a neighbor uses a word that makes you cringe, or a niece gives you an elbow and a disapproving look. You might find yourself wondering: Can I use that word? Am I not supposed to say that anymore? Where is the rulebook?
The Times article includes the result of a poll that looks at how people feel about a series of words.
To find out, we enlisted the help of the polling firm Morning Consult to survey a representative sample of over 4,000 Americans. We asked about some words for which we believe the rules are still unsettled, as well as how our respondents identified along the political, socioeconomic and generational spectrum.
You can also take the quiz to see where you fit compared to these 4,000 people polled by Morning Consult.
Below are the overall results produced by the poll. Interestingly, we can see that most (sometimes even an overwhelming majority of) people polled aren’t as uncomfortable with some of the words that many progressives believe should not be used. In addition, many of the words these same progressives would like us to adopt instead aren’t resonating with people. Now this could change overtime. Time will tell but until then we can only speculate that either Stanford is ahead of its time, or it is widely out of touch with the American people.
Veronique de Rugy is a Senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center and syndicated columnist at Creators.
Dec 23 2022 at 12:06pm
I use everything from non-white up on the list. Most below that I don’t use but am not offended. I do however consider the language in my opinion of the person using it.
Dec 23 2022 at 12:38pm
Several of the words at the bottom of the list are not potentially offensive terms but rather the proposed (but often unpopular) PC replacements such as ‘Latinx’ and ‘Global South’.
Dec 23 2022 at 12:12pm
Sure, the Stanford list is sometimes silly, but comparing that list to the NY Times poll provides little support for the idea that Stanford is out of touch.
The two lists have little overlap. Both Stanford and poll respondents agree that spaz, Gypsy, powwow and “spirit animal” shouldn’t be used. Poll respondents think both Black and African-American are acceptable. Stanford recommends Black over African-American, but also acknowledges that “some people do prefer to use/be addressed by this term, so it’s best to ask a person which term they prefer.” That doesn’t seem out of touch.
The only clear contradiction between the poll and the Stanford list appears to be the term “Hispanic,” which Stanford recommends against, in favor of Latinx. Poll respondents find Hispanic to be acceptable but wouldn’t use Latinx. Poll respondents also found Latino/a to be acceptable, and Stanford doesn’t forbid those terms, so I guess they agree. The NY Times (not the poll respondents) points out that Latino/a/x isn’t a substitute for Hispanic (Hispanic is a broader term), so there’s definite disagreement between them and Stanford on that. Stanford does advice against using “master” in some context but not specifically “master bedroom” (which was polled).
So, for the terms actually polled, Stanford seems very well aligned with poll respondents.
Dec 23 2022 at 4:57pm
The poll seems to be asking, “would you use these words,” not ” is it unacceptable to use these words,” or “are these words offensive.” I’m not sure I’ve ever unironically used the term “person of color,” certainly would never say “BIPOC” but if I worked at a publication I wouldn’t support banning their use.
So the use of the poll seems like a bait and switch to me. They’re positing that it reflects what words people find offensive, when it may just be gauging preferred usage. (Also worth noting that NYT readers probably aren’t representative of the general public)
Dec 23 2022 at 4:19pm
It’s wonderful how today’s righteous politics comes right out of the comedy sketches of 30+ years ago:
Art class. – Kids
“I want to be a woman. Call me Loretta.” -Pythons
Growing old I realize that Karl Marx actually was right about one thing: History repeats itself, as farce.
Comments are closed.