Michigan Launches Campaign To Stop Students From Using Words Such As “Gay,” “Ilegal Alien,” or “Crazy”

10406369_322412331277747_7680132564831969271_n225px-Umichigan_color_sealThe University of Michigan has spent $16,000 on a campaign to get students to use “inclusive language” and stop using certain words and phrases. Around campus, posters give examples of the now verboten words like “crazy,” “insane,” “retarded,” “gay,” “tranny,” “gypped,” “illegal alien,” “fag,” “ghetto” and “raghead.” In fairness to the school and students, there program is broader than just the listing of offensive terms and phrases. The campaign is also featured on Facebook.

What is interesting is that some of these words are quite offensive like “rag head,” “jewel” and “fag” among others. However, the list also reinforces that concern that, once schools begin to list approved and disapproved words, there is a slippery slope toward the inclusion of any word that could possibly insult any person or group. For example, most of my friends who are homosexual refer to themselves as “gay.” Likewise, “ghetto” is a long standing word that was used in Europe and other places to refer to impoverished areas. However, the posters ask “If you knew that I grew up in poverty, would you still call things ‘ghetto’ and ‘ratchet’?”

“I wanted to die” is listed as offense to “people who have attempted or committed suicide.” Putting aside the question of how you offend someone who did not simply attempt but actually committed suicide, some would contest the view that the phrase implies that “self-harm is laughable or not a real problem with which many people deal with.”

The University of Maryland has spent $15,000 on a similar campaign three years ago.

Once again, there is much to support in this program. It is an educational campaign without any threat of punishment over the use of these words. It is primarily asking for people to think about the impact of their words — a commendable goal. However, the list itself shows how easily such campaigns can become over-inclusive in words deemed offensive by some one and raise concerns over de facto speech codes. For example, if these words are now deemed offensive, then presumably they could be used against speakers for violating the university’s stated rules and responsibilities. These include such violations as:

“Stalking, harassing, or bullying another person–physically, verbally, or through other means”

Two of those terms are defined as:

Harassing: (1)to annoy persistently (2) to create an unpleasant or hostile situation for, especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct

Bullying: (1) to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller weaker person), (2) to act like a bully toward (someone), (3) to cause (someone) to do something by making threats or insults or by using force, (4) to treat abusively, (5) to affect by means of force or coercion

It is not clear when words publicly listed as being offensive can be used as the basis for charges under such rules. Likewise, it is not clear where free speech rights trump popular sensibilities. The term “illegal alien” is used in legal opinions and many still view the term as accurate and contest the removal of the reference to illegal status in describing this group. It is a matter of intense public debate but the question is whether the university should take a position on such a question. The handbook for Michigan states “The University has a long tradition of student activism and values freedom of expression, which includes voicing unpopular views and dissent. As members of the University community, students have the right to express their own views, but must also take responsibility for according the same right to others.” That can be an uncertain line to draw in the midst of a campaign over offensive terms and phrases.

Below is the poster from the campaign:


92 thoughts on “Michigan Launches Campaign To Stop Students From Using Words Such As “Gay,” “Ilegal Alien,” or “Crazy””

    1. Anarchist 2.0 – it was a question. You, like mespo, seem unable to tell what an ad hominem attack is. BTW, it is not an ad hominem attack if it is true and to the point, just for your clarification.

  1. Anarchist 2.0 – are you congenitally incapable of saying nice things? Again with the ad hominem attack.

  2. Anarchist 2.0 …. nice try. Lacking a real comment, toss a bomb. You so cool. I conquered alcohol long ago, re-lapsed and re-conquered, and admitted it….while dealing with cancer twice within 3 years. You go ahead and think what you want, but I know who I am and I know that what I say around people makes a difference, not because of my meaning, but because of the other people’s interpretation. I suspect you have little experience in the rough and tumble world. Let alone in foreign lands where language is a barrier and you have to learn both the language(s) and the cultures to gain the trust of the nationals. I’ve done that. Have you? I actually feel sorry for you in your lofty tower. However, I wish you no harm if you can’t understand what I posted on this thread.

  3. I interpreted “The only power words have is the power you give them,” to mean that a person can choose how to react to something someone else says. if you are called an offensive term, you can get upset and offended by it, or you can ignore the comment. You can make a conscious choice of how to act toward what was said instead of impulsively reacting to it. Kinda like saying “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” that many of us learned as kids. Personally, because I consider most of humanity basically insane, and what a crazy person says is often meaningless, if someone calls me something offensive, it doesn’t bother me even if they meant to anger me. You have to respect someone and value their opinion before they can hurt your feelings or make you mad with what they say. Unfortunately, most people are not protected with this type of emotional armor and they run around trying to please everyone else and trying to conform to other people’s standards. This gives those other people tremendous power over you because you give it to them.

    However, the discussion at the time was not about how a person could control his or her own thinking and thus protect themselves from offensive terms. It was about whether it was right (for a government institution) to try to control people’s actions and thinking by making rules to limit their use of offensive terms, or not. Controlling other people’s thoughts and controlling your own thoughts are two very different, if not opposite, concepts so I can understand why that statement might be misinterpreted without any further explanation.

    1. Tyger Gilbert

      You have to respect someone and value their opinion before they can hurt your feelings or make you mad with what they say.

      I respect what people say because I took the Declaration of Independence to heart. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”

      We are talking of freedom of speech here. But, you see, you cannot leave out Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness in the equation. If you do, it negates part of the whole you see? Many people who are not particularly religious on the blog will hold these freedoms up and they have a point. Free Will is an unalienable right but we can’t be Nazi’s about it as BarkinDog in his own way was trying to say.

      Unfortunately, most people are not protected with this type of emotional armor and they run around trying to please everyone else and trying to conform to other people’s standards. This gives those other people tremendous power over you because you give it to them.

      This is very true. I have lots of friend like this and even in their older years, they are trying to live up to a standard someone else set for them. I was guilty up until about 15 and lost a parent early but free will has been paramount for me.

  4. Sara, Sara, Sara, The politically correct term is “undocumented worker.” How tough do you think I was on a woman who tried to shove that horseshit down my throat not long ago? And, I am sympathetic to law abiding illegal aliens, having expressed it many times. But they are illegal and aliens, thusly..

  5. This is crazy, insane and retarded! I prefer to use polite language but people shouldn’t be told what they can say or not say. This compels me to use the words. It might not be mandatory but it might as well be. What’s wrong with saying “gay, ghetto, ratchet?” I also see nothing wrong with “illegal aliens” if we want to describe the issue accurately. It’s gone way too far, especially at a supposed bastion of liberty. It is getting so no one will know what anyone is talking about.

  6. old nurse, They indeed have a law school @ Michigan, Clarence Darrow is an alumnus. At the other end of the spectrum, so is Valerie Jarrett.

  7. I use Martin Luther King’s suggestion in terms of speech: Ask yourself is it true, is it kind, is it necessary. It allows me a moment to think about what I’m going to say. I have caused harm by my speech in the past and don’t want to do it anymore. But it is a totally personal decision and exercise of my free will [I can think it but I don’t have to say it].

    This UM initiative is ridiculous. These impressionable youngsters no doubt think it is a wonderful idea. Do they have a law school there? If so, maybe they can put out a poster about the first amendment.

  8. Actually, Barkindog DOES sound either drunk or off his meds. That’s no reason to instantly attack him via ad homimen but he sets himself up for it with his style of prose, much of it seemingly only a series of “quasi-sequiturs.”

    Frankly, his comment style seems – assuming a normative chemical balance on his part – to be designed to “draw” that exact flaw. He bloviates in a manner that allows him and his supporters / allies / friends to simply dismiss others as not being able to understand his “intellectual” points.

    Or he’s a Taoist. A lot them that I interact with fail to communicate in the exact same manner. 😀

  9. Why do WE have so called civility rules on this blog? How many of you know Pig Latin? What does “itchBay” mean? Or itShay?

    Why did the Principal at Lee -Hamilton Elementary in Ferguson by the name of Jack Mehoff get fired? How come Harry Rectum is barred from playing golf at the PGA?

    Do you know what the word “michigan” means in Osage?

    Why do they call French people Frogs? Or why do they call German people Krauts? The English are Limeys. Greeks are Sleepers. What is the acronym for With Out Papers? What is a Friggin Dago? Why has the name Ferguson been equated with Ghetto? The Media Is The Message. If Obama is half Black then what is the other half?

    Why do they allow smoking of tobacco on the campus at the University of Michigan? Can a student express himself with Free artFays in class at that school or must he exercise free speech in other fashions?

    Boy when you get North of the Mason Dixon line in this so called nation state you really start getting into Pirate Territories.

  10. This is the second time I have heard Aridog being extremely concise in explaining his position and having an ad hominem attack of this nature thrown at him. The first time it was 3 weeks ago by someone saying they recognized the symptoms.

    These kinds of words imo have power because they are intended to hurt people and they do more often than not, find their mark.

    Aridog has very high intellect, so do I. No one except for Ollie and Davidm22575 ever attempts to attack me intellectually. Always ad hominem.

    I guess you missed the point of Nick’s remark. or did you?

    If you want to play the anarchist, why don’t you make intelligent remarks instead of hurtful pot shots at peoples places where you think their weaknesses are?

    Intellectual stimulation is more entertaining to the rest of us that your enjoyment of inflicting your brand of emotional abuse.

  11. Aridog-

    I read your comment and the first question that comes to mind is- Are you drunk?

    The second thing I want to know is. . .no that was pretty much it.

  12. Dates are quite healthy and a great source of potassium. But, you can’t get these dates on lonely heart dating websites. These dates come from trees, not desperation.

  13. I think the only dates in the past decade have been from date palm trees. It’s almost time for the Annual Date Festival in Indio.

    1. Here in the Valley of the Sun you can get milk shakes made from dates. I have never had one or talked to anyone who has had one. It never seemed tempting. 😉

  14. on 1, February 9, 2015 at 10:14 amNick Spinelli
    If we call this “Liberal Fascism” enough it will make their Orwellian list soon. And, look for “Orwellian” to also make the verboten list. Take note over the archives. JT has done other posts like this. The usual suspect liberal fascists stay away from these posts. As I learned as a PI, you can tell as much by observing what people don’t do, as your can by what they do.
    on 1, February 9, 2015 at 11:56 pmLauren Toews
    Aridog, I didn’t know you had an Asian daughter, or if I did I forgot. The cowardly fascists have still avoided this thread. No balls or brains.

  15. Aridog, I didn’t know you had an Asian daughter, or if I did I forgot. The cowardly fascists have still avoided this thread. No balls or brains.

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