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Everyday Phrases Are Now ‘Offensive’

From the UK’s Times:

Quangos blackball … oops, sorry … veto ‘racist’ everyday phrases

August 23, 2009

Chris Hastings

It could be construed as a black day for the English language — but not if you work in the public sector.

Dozens of quangos and taxpayer-funded organisations have ordered a purge of common words and phrases so as not to cause offence.

Among the everyday sayings that have been quietly dropped in a bid to stamp out racism and sexism are “whiter than white”, “gentleman’s agreement”, “black mark” and “right-hand man”.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has advised staff to replace the phrase “black day” with “miserable day”, according to documents released under freedom of information rules.

It points out that certain words carry with them a “hierarchical valuation of skin colour”. The commission even urges employees to be mindful of the term “ethnic minority” because it can imply “something smaller and less important”.

The National Gallery in London believes that the phrase “gentleman’s agreement” is potentially offensive to women and suggests that staff should replace it with “unwritten agreement” or “an agreement based on trust” instead. The term “right-hand man” is also considered taboo by the gallery, with “second in command” being deemed more suitable.

Many institutions have urged their workforce to be mindful of “gender bias” in language. The Learning and Skills Council wants staff to “perfect” their brief rather than “master” it, while the Newcastle University has singled out the phrase “master bedroom” as being problematic.

Advice issued by the South West Regional Development Agency states: “Terms such as ‘black sheep of the family’, ‘black looks’ and ‘black mark’ have no direct link to skin colour but potentially serve to reinforce a negative view of all things black. Equally, certain terms imply a negative image of ‘black’ by reinforcing the positive aspects of white.

“For example, in the context of being above suspicion, the phrase ‘whiter than white’ is often used. Purer than pure or cleaner than clean are alternatives which do not infer that anything other than white should be regarded with suspicion.”

The clampdown in the public sector has angered some of the country’s most popular writers.

Anthony Horowitz, author of the Alex Rider children’s spy books, said: “A great deal of our modern language is based on traditions which have now gone but it would be silly — and extremely inconvenient — to replace them all. A ‘white collar worker’, for example, probably doesn’t wear one. An ‘able seaman’, under new regulations, could well be neither. ‘Spanish practices’ can happen all over Europe. We know what these phrases mean and we can find out from where they were derived. Banning them is just unnecessary.”

Marie Clair, spokeswoman for the Plain English Campaign, said: “Political correctness has good intentions but things can be taken to an extreme. What is really needed is a bit of common sense.”

We are without words.

Oh, well.

Guess it’s just another item to add to the white man’s burden.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, August 23rd, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

35 Responses to “Everyday Phrases Are Now ‘Offensive’”

  1. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Oh…..well….they can just GET BENT.

    Oh I long for the day when we all have a chip in our skull that tells the thought police what’s REALLY going through our heads.

    And by the way, is any other nation/language doing this? I think, perhaps not.

  2. David says:

    Considering I can become a lobster in the summer sun I find stop lights highly offensive. What are we teaching our children when we reinforce the notion that it is the red man who is holding us back and delaying us. I demand change right now. All street lights should fluctuate between all visible colors and audible sounds (for those otherly abeled) and everyone should just stop, slow down or go as seems right to them.

  3. Helena says:

    Hear, hear! David. And further submit that “put your best foot forward” and “lend a hand”, “lend an ear” are horribly insensitive to amputees, victims of Thalidomide, and Van Gogh. We must all be more vigilant.

  4. proreason says:

    Keep it up, liberal kooks, keep it up.

    But if you value life, be sure to be inland when the tsunami hits the shore.

  5. beautyofreason says:

    ” that the phrase “gentleman’s agreement” is potentially offensive to women ”

    Oh nooooo! I’m not a gentleman thus I am extremely offended by that fact.

    Or not. I wish all men were gentlemen and all women were ladies. :)

    • Liberals Demise says:

      Where do you stand when I say, “It’s a mans’ world?”

    • beautyofreason says:

      I’m teasing, liberal’s demise. Sayings don’t offend me. I didn’t mean for you to take me seriously! :)

      “It’s a mans’ world” sounds like something an angry Gloria Steinem would say. Kind of like when Jeremiah Wright said “white man’s greed runs a world in need” to justify his racial hate.

      Edit: Ooo….looked up the provenance of “it’s a man’s world.” Humorously, it was coined by a woman.

      “It’s a man’s world, and you men can have it.” ~Katherine Anne Porter

    • Liberals Demise says:

      I was kidding too!!

      This stuff pushes the W-E-I-R-D past weird. Is there really any help for mankind (oops) anymore?

  6. neocon mom says:

    If people are truly oppressed by the utterance of such mere, benign hyperbole then we’re too fragile as a people to have any hope of a future..

  7. We should make these guys “Hip-Hop critics…”

  8. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    What a bunch of idiotic nonsense. If you really want to dig a little deeper ‘second in command’ might be deemed more insensitive since it implies that you’re second because you’re not good enough to be first. I was always taught that the right side was the place of honor. So what’s wrong with being called the right hand man? To me it infers a greater honor. Now if ya’ll excuse me, I’m off to do a little shopping at Sam’s Club, whose very name would appear to make it sound like it’s exclusive and only for males.

    • catie says:

      No Sam’s around here, just Costco. Maybe Costco should just be for the girls and Sam’s be for the boys? ;)
      Seriously, are these people insane?

    • proreason says:

      “Seriously, are these people insane?”

      It sounds like you are extremely prejudiced agains people who are mentally ill, catie.

      The thought police will get you.

    • proreason says:

      oops, it looks like I may have something against the police, or possibly agains thinking.

      I better watch it as well.

    • proreason says:

      drat, I didn’t mean to imply anything against people who can’t watch. my bad.

    • proreason says:

      darn it, by “bad” i didn’t mean to malign people who aren’t always good.

    • proreason says:

      and I apologize to any knitters who have an issue with my use of “darn”

  9. canary says:

    It’s okay in America to say a person is black or white. Maybe saying African-American and Caucasion American just became burdensome, but I’m glad they switched it back.

    • Colonel1961 says:

      I know what you mean canary, but I’ve always said black and white – the other crap is just that – crap!

      But, what do I know, I’m the black sheep of the family… ;-)

  10. PatriotOne says:

    Those of us who value words must not yield and hold course to our manifest destiny……

  11. Celina says:

    It cracks me up how broadly the term “african-american” is used. I once was in the market for a nativity set. One catalog offered both a plain (read: white) and an african american version. Hmmm. Methinks more than a few people are in need of a history lesson.

    • catie says:

      You’re kidding me. Sheesh. How are you doing? How is your hubby? I hope the time is going fast for you. Is it getting colder up there yet? I hope you’re doing well. I continue to keep you all on our church’s list for deployment.

    • Celina says:

      We are doing alright. Thanks for asking. Kiddos are having a pretty rough time. DH was extended but thankfully we didn’t tell them when he was coming back to begin with. A lot of my friends had to break some bad news to their kids. DH is doing okay. Miserable but determined to do a good job as always.

      How are you doing? Isn’t your DH headed downrange? Thank you so much for your prayers. You are in my family’s prayers as well.

  12. GL0120 says:

    Years ago, the Li’l Abner comic strip had YIPES, Youths Indignant Over Practically Everything. Now, these YIPES have aged and become MIPES, Morons Indignant Over Practically Everything.
    Seeing that it’s impossible to avoid offending someone, (such as the Optically Challenged whom I just offended), then there’s really no point in caring!
    All of the previous posters have proven my assertion; no matter what you say, someone can take offense.
    How stupid do you have to be to find offense in Right Hand Man, Whiter Than White, or Black Holes (never mind, I think we had an answer to that one not too long ago.).
    This nonsense needs to end here and now.

    • Colonel1961 says:

      As someone who lives for the future, I’m offended by your use of the term ‘now’…

  13. wirenut says:

    Since liberals never mean what they say, how can you believe anything that they speak? The very same one’s that put the “we” in weird are the same one’s that would lead us to think ,,,
    The Constitution is a “living” document.
    Private property is regulated by the collective.
    Freedom of speech applies only if you agree with the collective.
    Profit from your labor is to be turned over to the collective. Next,
    The collective’s right to keep your firearms.

  14. Flession says:

    My looney Leftist co-worker once accused me of being racist when I told her that the reason Lord Barry chose The Wise Latina Woman (TM) was because “The apple didn’t fall far from the tree”.

    How is that even considered to be racist? Although I think that it might also be because she couldn’t argue back, which, you know, goes by that faithful and yet to be disproved legit definition of racism:

    Someone who is winning a argument with a Liberal.

    Also, I got accused of racism again tonite at work. Do Lefty Blacks have any better type of arguments?

  15. philmarlowe says:

    I seem to remember an elected official in the DC area getting fired for using the word ‘niggardly’ in a meeting. Even after it was explained that the word was not a racial slur, the firing body refused to back down, as I recall.

    Sometimes, I can only laugh at the ignorance.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      I once got the riot act read to me in the military for using the word “renege”.

      I can only imagine the thoughts going through certain people’s minds.

      From the Websters online:

      * Main Entry: re·nege
      * Pronunciation: ri-ˈneg also -ˈnāg, -ˈnig; rē-
      * Function: verb
      * Inflected Form(s): re·neged; re·neg·ing
      * Etymology: Medieval Latin renegare
      * Date: 1548

      transitive verb : deny, renounceintransitive verb 1 obsolete : to make a denial
      2 : revoke
      3 : to go back on a promise or commitment

      — re·neg·er noun

      —–Note: Goes back as far as 1548. Except perhaps in the Obama/Holder/Jackson/Sharpton/Gates/Oprah world where it probably goes back all the way to 1965, which of course, preceeds 1548, the way they see it. And….has racial connotations, as noted by the Webster’s definition: ri-‘nig

      But the etymology of a word, no matter how benign, must hold up to the race-baiter scrutiny. If it even SOUNDS remotely racist…. it must be eliminated. Thus, the word “negotiate” is subject to elimination as well as the governor of California will probably have to change his name; The literal translation meaning “black plowman”, as Ahhhhnold himself stated on Letterman some years ago. (http://stason.org/TULARC/movies/terminator/5-10-What-is-the-literal-translation-of-Schwarzenegger-T.html) OUCH, bet the schwarzers don’t much care for that. Oh….did I say a bad thing?

  16. VMAN says:

    You know this reminds me of all the safety equipment and features we have on everythin. All the warning labels and the like. At some point they become detrimental and not helpful. Airbags hurt people and seat belts trap people. Helmets break some peoples necks. Warning labels provoke the very actions that they are trying to prevent. They want to change the phrase “Right hand man” to “Second in command”? Well to me “Right hand man” implies someone indispensable, someone on the same level but “Second in command” implies a lesser status. Now I realize this in taking place in another country but there are those who would love to see this same thing in the good ole USA. Bottom line STAY OUT OF MY PATCH!!!! Get in it too much and we ARE going to fight.

  17. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    Our nation has become too hypersensitive. While I’ll admit some names and phrases are inappropriate, to me the remainder is quite harmless. In high school everyone belonged to a clique. And nobody took offense being referred to by their clique name. We had the jocks, nerds, snobs (the rich kids), heads or stoners, ropers (cowboys and cowgirls), thumpers (Christians), ROTC, etc. Nowadays I’m sure someone would take offense at being called one of these terms. People are just looking for ways to be offended.

  18. sheehanjihad says:

    Did anyone every stop to think of what would happen if the vast majority of the population just stopped being “PC” ? That tiny minority of jerks who make a living finding out who can be offended by something is the actual controlling body behind this nonsense. I would love to see everyone, and I mean everyone just say “eff off” and return to common sense thinking again.

    Why on earth, that say, five hundred people have to coddle to the demands of one person to accomodate them is beyond me. It used to be that the majority ruled in this republic. I have a sneaking suspicion that the majority will rule again, with common sense, and those who adhere to the PC way of thinking will be on the endangered species list in short order. LOL, I cant wait.

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