John Leo

CAN'T THEY PLAY WITHOUT VIOLENCE?

The British Labor government authorized a pamphlet urging teachers to ban the children's game of musical chairs on the grounds that it promotes aggression and allows the biggest and strongest children to win. Sue Finch, the booklet's author, said: "Musical statues is better because everybody wins." Good idea. Let's get rid of ALL the damaging kids' games. Goodbye to pin the tail on the donkey and monkey in the middle (violence toward animals), jacks (sexist), and hopscotch (obvious mockery of limb-deficient disability).

BUTCHERING THE TRUTH

The federation of meatshop owners in France is offended that reporters refer to murderers as "butchers," since most butchers are "gentle, peace-loving" workers. An architect in New York complained about a news report identifying "the architect" of a shooting spree. "There it is," wrote columnist Clyde Haberman of The New York Times, "the ugly face of anti-architect bigotry."

NEW, NICER LANGUAGE!

Mutilative elective surgery (the declawing of cats), pet guardians (pet owners), peace room (war room), guest service employees (bellhops), people of advanced chronology (the elderly), non-discretionary fragrance (body odor), states of concern (the State Department's new term for rogue states) and Green Bay Pickers (new name for football's Green Bay Packers, suggested by the animal-rights group PETA, which doesn't think anyone should eat meat, or even pack it).

WHAT ABOUT HISSING AND HERPES?

Because it begins with the masculine-sounding syllable "his," the word "history" has been banned at Stockport College, in Manchester, England. Also banned are the phrases "ladies and gentlemen" (offensive connotations of class), and "slaving over a hot stove (which "minimizes the horror and oppression of the slave trade"). No word, though, about that offensive first syllable of "Manchester."

A government-run employment bureau in Walsall, England, banned the words "hard-working," "reliable" and "smart" on grounds that they discriminate against the disabled. The phrase "commitment and a desire to succeed are vital" was banned as well, apparently for insensitivity toward lazy people. Striving to be reliable and smart, the Labor government rescinded the ban.


John Leo

John Leo is editor of MindingTheCampus.com and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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