We have previously followed government officials who are ordering the removal of basic words that they deem offensive. Thus, we saw how “hold down the fort” have been declared unacceptable by Obama Administration officials as racist. In Seattle, the language police have added terms like “citizen” and “brown bag” as racist or offensive. They are to be banned from public documents and discussions by order of the Seattle officials in the city’s Office of Civil Rights. By the way, they might want to start with the city council, which routinely holds “brown bag” lunches.
We have seen media organizations ban the use of “illegal aliens” or “illegal immigrant” to describe people here illegally. Indeed, you cannot use “illegal” but rather “undocumented” in publications or statements in major media outlets. However, now even the term “citizen” is unacceptable as offensive even though it describes a legal status. It is also found in the United States Constitution. It is not clear whether the Office of Civil Rights will now substitute words in such passages as:
Article 1: “No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen. . . . No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.”
Article 2, Section 1:“No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”
Fourteenth Amendment: Section 1. “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States . . . “
I am not sure what we will do with showings of movies like “Citizen Kane” at the public library. “Documented Worker Kane” or “Resident Kane” just doesn’t seem to capture the spirit.
Then there is “brown bag.” This term originated with . . . wait for it . . . the use of bags that are brown. That’s right, paper bags have been brown. People have taken their lunches in brown paper bags for decades. However, the office of Civil Rights found someone offended by that term because “the phrase brown bag does bring up associations with the past when a brown bag was actually used, I understand, to determine if people’s skin color was light enough to allow admission to an event or to come into a party that was being held in a private home.”
I find this perfectly insane but Elliott Bronstein of the Office for Civil Rights assures everyone that “Luckily, we’ve got options” and can use other words instead. For example, the office is telling workers that instead of using “brown bag” city employees should use the terms “lunch-and-learn” or “sack lunch.” Lunch-and-Learn? I am not even sure what that is.
As for sack, it is not an option for me. I find it offensive. I am half Italian and I am still smarting over the sacking of Rome not once but repeatedly in 3990 BC (Gauls), 410 (Visigoths), 455 (Geiseric), 546 (Ostrogoths), 846 (Saracens), 1084 (Normans) and 1527 (Holy Roman mutineers). When ever I hear “sack” I am instinctively thrown into a panic and try to flee to a catacomb. I cannot pass a “sack a suds” without instinctively looking for Visogoths. Indeed, due to the prior sackings, I find the use of “gall” and “normal” offensive as too close to those people in 3990 BC and 1084.
What I do not understand is how in a period of economic difficulty with people without jobs and basic services, we still have people spending their time trying to outlaw “brown bag” and “citizen” from common usage. That is what I find offensive.