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. Soon to be published: Oxa’s book “35 Dumb Things Dr. Maura Cullen Says: Unsurprising Things That Widen the WTF? Gap”

  2. Clearly the folks who drew up this list at the school need more work to do. What foolishness. They could simply say that people need to be aware of the feelings of others, should always be courteous and kind and try not to offend others unnecessarily. Having good manners is a pretty handy thing. Attempting to tell people what they can and cannot say except in the case of the most egregious and offensive epithets is a fools errand.

  3. The phrase “too many cooks spoil the broth” comes to mind when I consider this melting pot we call the United States culture. The once untouchable base ingredient in this stew was our Bill of Rights. The founding fathers had a vision (DoI) for what this pot should be cooking up and it wasn’t to create a more perfect “voter base”, but rather a more perfect “UNION”. The modern progressive era has largely been based on the politics of DISUNION. The political class have become the more perfect union at the expense of our extremely divide civilian class. Our melting has become a toxic sludge and instead of trying to fix it, the political class is turning up the heat.

  4. While I find this list to be offensive in many of its statements, I have a hard time getting too upset about it since there are no penalties, or sanctions for NOT adhering to these suggestions. So to say it is the left that is suppressing free speech is a lie. I grew up in the McCarthy era when people went to PRISON for their political beliefs. They lost jobs, were denied passports, could not leave the USA without government approval, could not read certain books, were arrested for bringing banned books into the US, and were arrested and sent to jail on trumped up charges. These are just a FEW of the CRIMES against our freedom that the right wing imposed on ALL Americans. Then we have the FACT that black Americans had very little freedom of any kind,much less speech. So let’s use some common sense and perspective for a change.

    1. You think conservative people aren’t losing their jobs due to the PC stuff??? And the proposed prosecution of global warming deniers?

      My goodness, but use google once in a while. Here is one from just the other day:

      ESPN is an inclusive company. Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated,” the statement read.

      The post, which was later deleted, showed a man dressed as a woman with a caption referring to the transgender bathroom laws that have made headlines frequently in recent months: “Let him into the restroom with your daughter or else you’re a narrow-minded, judgmental, unloving racist bigot who needs to die!!!” the meme read.


      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

      1. I agree Squeeky that ESPN should be ashamed of itself for firing Schilling. This said, you are aware are you not that the free speech clause of the First Amendment does not apply to private sector employers. If they think that something one of the employees has said or done reflects poorly on the company, damages the company’s reputation in any way, or does not comport with the company’s mission — if they have one — they are free to fire you. You essentially have very little or no free speech right to say something that an employer determines unacceptable. So unless you are willing to support a revision to the First Amendment that applies the free speech clause to private sector employers, using ESPN and Schilling as an example does not really make your case that free speech rights are threatened.

    2. Hmm, punishing whistleblowers and signing off on indefinite detention was done by a Liberal president. Continuous surveillance is also okay under a Liberal president. Can’t blame it all on the Right Wing.

    3. Also let’s not forget Norman Finkelstein who made the mistake of writing about some rabid Zionists use the Holocaust to generate support and cash – eternal guilt and victimhood. Both the Right and Left bonded to destroy his teaching career. Apparently some topics are too taboo.


  5. Professor Turley,

    Does repeatedly seeing these types of stories on an ever increasing number of college campuses ever make you question the sanity and intelligence of your cohorts?

    I used to think all this PC and “diversity” stuff was laughable nonsense. Unfortunately, now I see it as a true threat to our liberty and ultimately our freedom.

    We now have multitudes of people in America practicing professional victimhood. It really is sad that this profession is being taught at our institutions of “higher learning”.

  6. It would be better to have a discussion of the best ways to support other people rather than attacking specific word configurations which seem very arbitrary in their selection. When I hear someone say something like, “I jewed him down,” I recognize the speaker is ignorant of the effect that may have on other people. The speaker may very well not have any animosity toward Jews.

    1. Personally, I’ve never heard anyone say “Jew you down” in meatworld. It was a line in the film Drop Dead Gorgeous, however. Since that film was a comedy whose plot was driven by a murderous mother-daughter duo who were taking out various parties in a little town in Minnesota so that the daughter might follow in her mothers footsteps and attend the state beauty pageant sponsored by a skeezy cosmetics company, I don’t think the dialogue was meant to be…ur… realistic.

      1. That was a hilarious movie! FWIW, “jewing somebody down” is a common idiom, and I have used it many times, myself. Plus, I have heard it said on numerous occasions. Along with “Afro-engineering”, and it’s less polite source idiom. Plus, “hairlipping everybody on Bear Creek.”

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

      2. Drop Dead Gorgeous is a ‘mockumentary’ meant as a send-up of the beauty pageant scene. It features Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards and Amy Adams. If you have not seen it, it is very funny. Some of the humor is very very sublte. Denise Richards talent portion is over-the-top. 🙂 Very dark comedy.

    2. As someone of Scottish and Ukrainian blood I have always enjoyed the jokes and attributes thrown my way. I have been accused of being Scotch when being frugal. The term is wrong but works better than Scottish. ‘Jewing down’ someone can be seen as a derogatory remark but for the most part I have recognized in the user a degree of envy and a certain applause at a Jew’s ability to dominate in business. When you recognize the extremely disproportionate representation this minority holds in the upper business, entertainment, intellectual, professional, and other top strata you either out yourself as someone in awe of this race or someone simply looking for someone to belittle in order to make your miserable self rise in your own eyes and the eyes of the other racists, bigots, and scum. Jews, Chinese, and other immigrants who have stuck together to make it to the top somehow are bunched together as something wrong with America. In reality they are what is right with America.

      This micro aggression BS is the worst thing that can happen to America. The best way to evolve out of our racist and bigoted present is to allow the racists and bigots free rein and once outed see if we can teach them. Only by uttering these blasphemies will they get an idea of their own racism and bigotry.

  7. The sad thing is that many students have been punished, in some cases expelled, for violating such codes. Greg Lukianoff’s “Unlearning Liberty” is a great read that details numerous cases, many of which would be laughable if not such serious violations of people’s rights. Mr. Lukianoff is President and CEO of FIRE, the Foundation for individual Rights in Education, and a real hero fighting for academic freedom.

    Mr. Lukianoff and NYU Professor Jonathan Haidt wrote an excellent article in The Atlantic about how safe spaces and trigger warnings harm not only academic freedom, but also the intended beneficiaries of these policies. See “The Coddling of the American Mind” http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/

    JMU is a public university and is held to the First Amendment. FIRE has never lost a First Amendment case against a public university. Please, please, please support this vital organization https://www.thefire.org/

    Now, in support of JMU I’d like to add a few things to the above list:

    36. Any statement that includes the words microaggression or trigger warning;
    37. Any statement that refers to people who disagree as idiots (This would seem to be a macroaggression);
    38. Any statement that refers to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as an acceptable president;
    39. Any statement that begins with “check your privilege”; and
    40. Any statement that refers to different opinions as hate speech.

  8. From 1984:

    “We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent there will be no need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always—do not forget this Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  9. The problem is that James Madison has the budget to hire marginally employable twits to work in its student affairs apparat. Again, as always, trustee nonfeasance and state legislator nonfeasance is the problem.

    1. Marginally employable??? Hogwash! These are prime candidates for jobs in Hillary’s Democratic Administration! People just like these are out there day after day promulgating silly rules for various agencies. Credit card companies should loan these people lots of money, because they are guaranteed to have great jobs!

      I think that you are still laboring under the delusion that intelligence and critical thinking abilities are in demand. They aren’t.

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

    1. Proof of what?

      It seems not to occur to you that you that the schmucks in the dean of students office who promulgated the rule which inconvenienced you are standard issue educational apparatchiks, who are very seldom Republicans. Protecting W was not what they had in mind. The smart money says shutting down the next affirmative-action bakesale was.

  10. The Speech Police have arrived on the scene. The Thought Police can’t be too far behind.

  11. See how far free speech gets you with a Trump crowd. I had to stand in “Free Speech Zones” a half a mile away for Dubya. When it comes to free speech to right-wingers its….Heads I win, tails you lose.

    1. LOL! The assault on free speech is from the left. Even a Down’s Syndrome guy can see that.

      1. The Down’s case is merely unintelligent. For full-on self-centered stupidity, you have to go left.

      2. This is not an example of an assault on free speech. In this instance no one’s free speech rights have actually been restricted. University officials were acting on their right to free speech when they issued this document informing students about statements that are likely to offend some people, and asking them — not requiring them — to refrain from using these statements. You are exercising your free speech right to criticize them for dong so. Everyone in this instance is exercising a free speech right, and not one person’s right to freely speak has actually been restricted or taken from them in this instance. It is an exercise of free speech to attempt to inform others of the ways in which language and/or particular phrases may offend others. So long as authorities don’t prohibit one from offending other people through means of coercive rules, no violation of the free speech principle has occurred. Free speech means you can say pretty much anything you want except for those restrictions — which are very narrow and limited — that the U.S. Supreme Court has found are consistent with the First Amendment free speech clause (http://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/educational-resources/about-educational-outreach/activity-resources/what-does).

        1. Actually, highly underemployed student affairs apparatchiks are attempting to manipulate people into adhering to their stupid social ideology. This is a state school and the people doing this are not properly cast in a ministerial role.

          There’s a distinction between legal sanction and culture. These people are attempting to promote a culture wherein everyone is minding asinine p’s and q/s and their rancid social program is advanced by promoting the idea that opposition is some sort of crime of manners.

          And yes, there will be sanctions enforced by student affairs apparatchiks and written into manuals. They’re weasels so the offenses will be written in code.

          1. You claim that these people are pushing a “stupid social ideology.” What social ideology? What are the specific principles or tenets of this social ideology? What are its objectives? What makes it stupid? Until you provide answers to these questions you provide no reason to accept your claim that they are pushing such an ideology, or that such an ideology even exists.

            I agree that there is a distinction between legal sanction and culture. But all you offer is a declarative statement that these people are “attempting to promote a culture wherein everyone is minding asinine p’s and q’s ….” without offering an argument that persuasively establishes that this is what they are doing. In the specific case under discussion here, I am unconvinced that these student affairs people have done anything more than attempt to raise awareness about the ways in which language can offend and inflict emotional injury. They asked — did not demand or require — that students refrain from using the statements on the list. I have made it clear that I don’t believe a person has a right not to be offended. I have also made it clear that you do not have a right to offend others and demand or expect that you should be permitted to do so without being offended or insulted in return. Free speech runs both ways. You also do not have the right to decide for others what is and is not offensive.

            You insist that sanctions will eventually follow. You are free to believe this. But it is only that – a belief, and not even one founded on any evidence, but rather on what appears to be a dogmatically held view that all “underemployed student affairs apparatchiks” are “weasels” advancing what you consider to be a “rancid social program.”

            By the your choice of words do not constitute an actual arguments but rather are the kind of language designed to demonize the opposition. This is the very kind of language which is discussed in the article which JR links to further down in this thread. You are one of the ones helping to further spread the phenomenon of affective partisan polarization.

            1. What social ideology? What are the specific principles or tenets of this social ideology? What are its objectives? What makes it stupid? Until you provide answers to these questions you provide no reason to accept your claim that they are pushing such an ideology, or that such an ideology even exists.

              You should be more concise. Stick your fingers in your ears and say ‘nyah nyah can’t hear you’.

              If you’re at all interested in what their social ideology is, read their words. I don’t get paid to write annotations for you.

              1. Fine then. A claim offered without evidence or argument can and should be dismissed without evidence or argument. I’ve read their words. I think you’re imagining things.

    2. Protestors are NOT allowed to shut down events or yell over those actually invited to speak. Otherwise, you are using your own free speech to deny others, and you are interfering with a public event.

      There are myriad examples of conservatives being screamed down by bullies at events. That’s not free speech. You can say what you want without silencing others.

      That is why they create designated areas for protests. To give everyone their right to free speech.

    1. Was his plan also for these dead people to vote through additional fraud? Otherwise his efforts would be pointless.

      But wait, voter fraud is a right wing conspiracy myth…

  12. We wouldn’t want to be nice to people now would we? We might decrease the “diversity gap,” whatever that means. I always thought more diversity was “good.” Now I’m being told I need to decrease the gap? What’s up with that? .

  13. Would mentioning that James Madison was once quoted as saying that Dolly was a beast in the bedroom off limits at this place? Yeah, folks. She ain’t just known for her pastries.

  14. Antonio, You are seeing the opposition. What attracts many people to a horribly flawed candidate in Donald J Trump is this PC issue.

  15. Political correctness on steroids. Whatever happened to freedom of speech, critical thinking and the conviction that there are some ideas which make us uncomfortable but are true. Stand your ground when you believe you are right, give solid reasons for what you believe and tell those who insist you are some kind of troglodyte to go to hell.

  16. The US will have European or Canadian style hate speech laws within 20 years. And with little opposition.

    1. The US has already far surpassed Europe and Canada with hate itself. This ‘hate’ style is more in vogue in the US than in most countries. Trump is counting on it. The haters are counting on it. This Turleyish posting is a nuisance that comes no where near the seriousness of the problems in this country. Rule number one for the superficial, focus on the superficialities. Rule number two, create a mountain out of a molehill to distract from the real problems. Rule number three, offer up a slam bang, scratch that itch, identify those responsible, solution. Now, do you understand Trump. If you do, you will also have an idea of the real problem(s).

      1. re: “Rule number one for the superficial, focus on the superficialities. Rule number two, create a mountain out of a molehill to distract from the real problems. Rule number three, offer up a slam bang, scratch that itch, identify those responsible, solution.”

        NOW I finally understand the DNC thought process employed by the MSM lackeys. Gracias Isaac!

Comments are closed.