Arc de Trivial

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

The disintegration of higher education is depressing enough to cover on a daily basis but when you look at the arc of it at years end, it gets really melancholy.

A. Barton Hinkle of The Richmond Times Dispatch has already done this rueful recap. He notes that “when it comes to Orwellian efforts to erase politically incorrect terms, politicians can’t hold a candle to the nation’s colleges and universities.” We would agree wholeheartedly.

On Hinkle’s timeline:

• Last year Princeton banished the word “man” from the campus lexicon in an effort to be more gender-inclusive.

• James Madison University went even further, distributing a list that was seven pages long, rather than seven words. Among the things you should avoid saying at JMU: “I know exactly how you feel,” “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” calling disabled people “courageous,” and calling old people “cute.”

• The University of Michigan warned students to avoid numerous other words, from “crazy” and “insane” to “gypped” and “illegal alien.”

• A professor at Washington State threatened to flunk students who used the words “male” and “female” or other “racist, sexist, homophobic, ,transphobic, xenophobic, classist or generally offensive… hateful or oppressive language.” (She was later overruled.)

• Elon University banned “freshman.”

• At the University of New Hampshire, “American” is “problematic.”

• The University of California system doesn’t want people to say that America is a land of opportunity, or that “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough.”

• Gwinnett College in Georgia shut down student Chike Uzuegbunam’s Christian proselytizing because it constituted “fighting words.”