As part of the ongoing sterilization of the English language, a Minnesota college has launched a campaign to eliminate words and phrases such as “wuss,” “you guys,” “crazy” and “derp,” among others loaded with “oppressive impact,” from the popular lexicon.
Macalister College’s “More Than Words: Inclusive Language Campaign” uses a series of YouTube videos and posters designed to be placed around campuses to “raise awareness about the importance of using inclusive language.”
Why might academics feel the need to remove such harsh turns of phrase as “hebe-jebes,” “girl” and “ghetto” from the language?
Assistant Professor Soojin Pate explains, “Our culture is heterosexist, it’s racist, it’s patriarchal. It’s transphobic, homophobic, ageist, ableist. All these isms, right. And all these different kinds of inequality.
“Our language, the language that we use, actually not only reflects that culture but it also creates it.”
Here are some insensitive words with which the campaign is seeking to do away and the reasoning provided:
Gay: “This phrase is used to describe something as inferior or deficient and supports heterosexist beliefs that individuals who do not identify as heterosexual are delinquent, abnormal, and wrong.”
Ghetto: “This phrase is used to describe something as inappropriate or deficient and supports stereotypical beliefs that the culture and environments of racial and ethnic minorities and individuals who are from a lower socioeconomic status are inferior, delinquent, and unequal.”
Gypped: “Gypped is used to convey the feeling that someone was cheated and reinforces negative stereotypes that the Romani people (commonly known as Gypsies) are thieves. Alternatives: cheated, had, deceived, duped, tricked.”
Hebe-jebes: “Hebe-jebes is used to describe feeling intense apprehension and nervousness and has at its base “hebe” which is a slur for a Jewish person. Alternatives: jittery, suspicious, doubtful, uneasy.”
Indian-giver: “Indian-giver is used to describe someone who gives gifts only to demand them back later and is culturally insensitive to Native peoples. Alternatives: go back on word, weasel out of, renege.”
Don’t be a… Girl: “This phrase is used to describe someone as weak or deficient and supports stereotypical beliefs that women are powerless, inept, and inferior to men.”
As one Internet commenter put it, America is marching ahead to a brave new world full of content-free language.