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. If you are so concerned about this “trend” (its always been like this for those speaking about issues that aren’t popular to the business class, who you are clearly bought by…) then why no issue with GW’s treatment of the Palestinian flag? Where is this principle you speak of? You failed to comment when your school took down a students unpopular palestinian flag, even though an Israeli flag was mere doors down from this student. Principle? Yes, for the business class. Not free speech. Quit the act.

      1. Lol this blog is civil I thought… and I’m told to leave..

        Also, btw the article you linked to fails to mention JT. This blog is JonathanTurley.org…. it has nothing to do with the GW Univ. president…. I don’t know their claimed views on civil liberties… I mentioned only this public intellectual and this blog….

      2. Your article actually proves my point though…. Thank you.

        Palestine Legal stepped up to ensure this young man’s basic civil liberties were not violated by the University…. JT was nowhere to be found to aid this young man (or even comment on this blatant violation by the University that employs him even though civil liberties are apparently a hallmark principle to stand for)… Do you really wonder why?????

  2. Good, people need to stop saying anything about bootstraps…it’s 2016 and people don’t have bootstraps anymore…it’s time to get rid of this antiquated phrase.

    1. Ah, if one never wears real boots then one may think bootstraps are long gone. However, bootstraps are very much around unless they have been named some PC term.

      On the other hand, I still don’t know how to “lift myself by my bootstraps.” I usually have to sit down or step into and pull as I slip my foot in. The boots are great for burying one up a liberal’s excretory orifice when the head isn’t already up in it. A good boot has a moderate point to ensure entry and a high enough sheath to keep the toro caca out of the boot.

  3. Sounds like the Northwestern University President should be sued.
    As far as stupidity and lunacy goes, this list sure takes the cake…. Dr. Maura Cullen… LMFAO

    Have the good doctor and president heard of the word ‘context’?

  4. Somebody emotes and you sit quietly and say nothing because you might offend.
    1. Microaggresion: by not moving and keeping a neutral posture and obviously rejecting the other
    2. Insensitive: non-responsive
    3: Racist: even if of the same race, ignoring a problem or individual and by not commenting one therefore agrees or gives credence to the offense or instrument of hurt
    4. Miso-genderistic: either one is denying ones own gender issues or the orher’s issues by not siding with or providing a cogent reasoned alternative view to the other.
    5. Stay home and in bed…have great sex (even if only with porn and Kleenex) , snort lines and waste away at an early age. Timothy Leary had it right but for all the wrong reasons.

  5. James Madison is rolling in his grave.

    “The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.”- James Madison

  6. I thank my dad for teaching me, by observing him in various situations, that sometimes you just have to ignore certain people. Of course you should be a person of fair judgment in order to exercise this ability well, including how you judge yourself in the exercise thereof.

    1. Hey now – that’s called a “Quality Filter”!

      Newspeak at it’s best. And it’s doubleplusgood to boot.

  7. #29, “People with disabilaties are “courageous”! The people with disabilaties are the ones that came up with this list.

  8. These rules are a Gyp! They Jerry rig the rules so the losers think they are winners.

    I was going to push the envelope further but decided to give JT a break.

    1. Hey! Nick – “jerry” rig? Isn’t that offensive to those with German genes?

      1. Have any Gypies requested safe spaces when someone complained about being “gyped?”

          1. Autumn, Someone tried to get me to call them Roma and I gave them a frank and honest reply! My bride is just finishing up her 3rd book and it involves Gypsies. And that is what they are called in the book. My bride has been fascinated w/ Gypsies since she had a curse put on her by a Gypsy mom. My bride was a Federal Probation Officer and she recommended the maximum sentence for this mom’s Gypsy son.

      2. Yes, Autumn. My bride is a Jerry, a Kraut. Don’t you see, there are some groups not protected by PC. Let me know when poor white trailer trash make the PC list. Or rednecks.

        1. Nick, are you familiar with the writings of Joe Bageant — his book “Deer Hunting with Jesus” opened up my mind. Made me understand how the powers that be pitted poor whites against blacks in the South. Sadly, he died. The South is a unique region. I can only imagine what he would have done with HRC!


  9. The list only stopped at 35. I can’t believe it, this list is not complete. I take it that this institution also has counseling and safe places.

  10. This is so retarded.

    On a serious note, the worrying aspect will be in the future when fools such as this spill out into society and become politicians and government regulators.

    I have found that it is pointless to argue reason to those professing practices such as this or social justice warriors in general. It is best to just ignore them and go about living a normal life. They expect confrontation and they feed on it. But when they are about to negatively affect law or policy, they must be stopped.

  11. From the article linked in the blog:

    “Statements of empathy supposedly ‘shuts the other person down'”

    Isn’t this whole thing about shutting at least one side of the conversation down? Oh, the irony!

  12. From Wikipedia on Fahrenheit 451:

    “Sensing Montag’s concerns, Beatty recounts how books lost their value and where the firemen fit in: over the course of several decades, people embraced new media, sports, and a quickening pace of life. Books were ruthlessly abridged or degraded to accommodate a short attention span while minority groups protested over the controversial, outdated content perceived to be found in books. The government took advantage of this, and the firemen were soon hired to burn books in the name of public happiness.”

    1. That’s funny Karen, I just posted a Fahrenheit clip on another Turley topic. It is one of my fav books and films. Some people find it dark, but to me it strengthens my belief that the human spirit will always find a way around totalitarian societies.

      1. I love the book and the movie. I was lucky enough to meet Ray Bradbury and have him sign one of his books.

        It may be set in dystopia, but after a nuclear disaster, there was hope in rebuilding.

        The natural inclination of human beings is to desire freedom – of thought, and of self determination.

        1. wow KarenS – I am envious you got to meet him. He is one of my fav authors. My Dad was a sci fi fan and introduced me to “The Martian Chronicles” when I was a tween. What an incredible writer.

  13. Do they know this is not normal? That this emphasis on outrage and offense renders them less suited to heel-toe it through life in peace and tolerance? Or get a job?

    They have adapted to a new normal. Except, instead of “normal” being everyone wears $100 shoes at school, it’s everyone walks on eggshells.

    It is a grave error to divorce intent from communication, and to train oneself to become offended at more and more phrasing.

    We are losing our bridges in communication and emphasizing intolerance and anger. The real world will not conform to our personal feelings.

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