The relentless march of linguistic re-engineering is continuing apace, with a US university issuing a new list of inoffensive words that are apparently now inappropriate to use. It’s imperative this woke brainwashing is resisted.
In recent years, the policing of language has acquired a seemingly unstoppable momentum. Almost every week, the public is informed about yet another word that must not be used. But who would have imagined that the term ‘trigger warning’ would become the target of the language police?
Until now, trigger warnings were promoted by zealous supporters of the project of the policing language. Now Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts has decided that the term ‘trigger warning’ should be dropped in favour of the term ‘content note.’ The University’s ‘Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center’ argues that the “word ‘trigger’ has connections to guns for many people; we can give the same head’s up [sic] using language less connected to violence.”
Getting rid of the phrase ‘trigger warning’ because the word trigger has a connection with guns is truly bizarre. If the language police at Brandeis were consistent in their objective of purifying language to the point of censoring words that have a connection with violence, then usage of the term ‘violence’ itself would have to be dropped.
However, the advice offered by the Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center is not motivated by logic and consistency, but by the aspiration to control and re-engineer the way people speak and think. Its guidance on re-engineering “oppressive language” comes across as an exercise in self-parody.
Brandeis warns against using the word picnic because this word is “is often associated with lynchings of black people in the United States, during which white spectators were said to have watched while eating, referring to them as picnics or other terms involving racial slurs against black people.”
The claim that the word picnic is “often associated with lynchings of black people” is ridiculous. 99.99% of people talking about going on a picnic have no idea that the term has even the slightest connection to lynchings. They are using this term in exactly the same sense that informed its original 18th century usage, which referred to the sharing of food outdoors.