James Madison Students Instructed Not To Say Things Like “Picking People Up By Their Bootstraps”

james_madisonu_sealJames Madison University has issued a list of 35 things to instruct students on not saying “dumb” things, a list that reflects phrases considered to be “microaggressions” or insensitive comments. The students at the orientation were told never to say things like “love the sinner, hate the sin,” “we’re all part of the human race,” “I treat all people the same,” and “people just need to pick themselves up by their bootstraps.” among other expressions.

The list appears to come from Dr. Maura Cullen’s book “35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say: Surprising Things We Say that Widen the Diversity Gap,” a popular source for those who argue that microaggressions should be sanctioned on campuses, a view recently embraced by the Northwestern University President who called those with opposing views “idiots.”

James Madison University wants students to stop referring to people pulling themselves up by their bootstraps or “I know exactly how you feel.” Even expressions of empathy are disfavored because they “shut[] the other person down.” So telling a gay or lesbian person that “what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom is your business” is still “hurtful and annoying” because it belittles their experiences.

I have written columns and blogs through the years about the disturbing trend on U.S. campuses toward free speech regulation and controls. In the name of diversities and tolerance, college administrators and professors are enforcing greater and greater controls on speech –declaring certain views or terms to be forms of racism or more commonly “micro aggressions.” This has included such phrases as “melting pot.”

Here is the full list:

1. “Some of my best friends are …”
2. “I know exactly how you feel.”
3. “I don’t think of you as …”
4. “The same thing happens to me too.”
5. “It was only a joke! Don’t take things so seriously.”
6. What do ‘your’ people think.”
7. “What are you?” or “Where are you really from?”
8. “I don’t see color” or “I’m color blind.”
9. “You are so articulate.”
10. “It is so much better than it used to be. Just be patient.”
11. “You speak the language very well.”
12. Asking black people about their hair or hygiene.
13. Saying to LBGTQ people “what you do in the privacy of your own bedroom is your business.”
14. “Yes, but you are a ‘good’ one.”
15. “You have such a pretty face.”
16. “I never owned slaves.”
17. “If you are going to live in this country, learn to speak the language!”
18. “She/he is a good person. She/he didn’t mean anything by it.”
19. “When I’ve said the same thing to other people like you, they don’t mind.”
20. Calling women “girls, honey, sweetie pie” or other familiar terms.
21. When people of color say, “It is not the same thing.”
22. When people of faith say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”
23. When white men say, “We are the ones being discriminated against now!”
24. Referring to older people as “cute.”
25. Asking a transgender person, “What are you really? A man or a woman?”
26. Referring to the significant other, partner, or spouse of a same gender couple as their “friend.”
27. “Why do ‘they’ (fill in the blank) always have to sit together? They are always sticking together.”
28. “People just need to pick themselves up by their bootstraps.”
29. People with disabilities are “courageous.”
30. “That’s so gay/queer. That’s so retarded.”
31. “I don’t see difference. We are all part of the same race, the human race.”
32. I don’t care if you are pink, purple or orange, I treat all people the same.”
33. Asking a transgender person, “Have you had the operation.”
34. Saying to a Jewish person, “You are so lucky to have ‘your’ Christmas spread over a week!”
35. “Here’s another book on political correctness.”

89 thoughts on “James Madison Students Instructed Not To Say Things Like “Picking People Up By Their Bootstraps””

  1. That a list exists is quite unnecessary and absurd. But someone that chooses to use the phrase “Picking People Up By Their Bootstraps” and other similar phrases should not be trusted. It’s usually rank classicism. This blog loves this list though. Sift through the history and they are probably used (Tacky).

    1. ChipKelly – as a person who fprmerly oversaw teachers and what they did in their classroom, I would have never given them a list of phrases not to use. Most of the phrases on there I have never used, although I have heard them or read them. However, as long as the teacher/professor is not abusing the students, I had little care about what they said. I was concerned with the content of their classes. For instance, I had to take a teacher aside 3 times because he was not teaching to the state standards.

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