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BURRISS: Fifty dirty words banned from NYC classrooms

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Life used to be so easy.

Some 40 years ago comedian George Carlin told us there were only seven dirty words you couldn’t say on radio.

Now, thanks to the New York City Department of Education there is a list of more than 50 words we shouldn’t use.

Here are just some of the words school officials are trying to ban: dinosaurs, home computer, hurricane, birthday, dancing, all forms of religious holidays, including Christmas, Yom Kippur and Ramadan, and politics.

And why are the words being banned? Because the school chancellor says they might upset some of the children taking standardized tests.

So let me see if I understand this.

New York City schools are going to teach history and social studies and do it without mentioning politics.

And they are somehow going to teach about weather and not mention hurricanes.

Of course, every one of the words on the list is routinely found in books, literature and newspapers.

So maybe the chancellor who dreamed up this idea is going to ban books, literature and newspapers from the school as well.

Speaking of books, we all know of lots of books that have been banned, including dictionaries, which by their very nature are loaded with offensive words.

But this is the first time I can think of an entire list of apparently innocuous words that has been declared off limits.

Once again, we have political correctness run amuck.

So let’s see what else we should ban: Everything dealing with cars because some people can’t afford them, and they cause pollution.

We shouldn’t teach English because it might offend immigrants.

We probably need to completely leave out history because I can’t think of anything historical that doesn’t offend someone.

So here’s a thought, maybe all of the teachers in the New York City school system should assign an essay, and see which students can coherently use the most words on the list in a 500 word essay. MP

Larry Burriss can be contacted at Larry.Burriss@mtsu.edu.
Tagged under  Larry Burriss, Media Matters, Voices

Members Opinions:
April 06, 2012 at 4:36pm
Wow, I can’t even begin to make sense of these school officials rational. Its absurd that they are banning words on the basis that they might offend someone. How can children become well diverse when they can’t even learn about the different religions or the history that has shaped the world? Furthermore, how are children going to react to these words and ideas when they finally do encounter them in the “real world”? Will they think all of these words always have bad connotations? I believe John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost, best expresses this issue when he says that censorship only injures the truth and that truth will always prevail in the end. These same principals can also be related back to the early Socrates. The schools are undoubtedly restricting the students’ 1st amendment rights as well as limiting their success in the future. This problem also puts a lot of emphasis on parenting. Not every child is graced with perfect parents who have good views and morals to the real world. If children had to rely on their parents to learn about basic academic knowledge, many kids would struggle greatly. Anyways, I hope this is a “no-brainer” for people. Schools shouldn’t have the authority to simply not teach subjects they feel aren’t necessary, like history, or public safety. Now more than every, we want children to be well diverse and able to think for themselves. How do we expect any progress from them if they cant learn from the mistakes of our past?

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