Brandeis U takes woke language policing to new depths of stupidity

Brandeis University acquired some undesirable publicity final week when its “Oppressive-Words List” became public. The listing — created by college students and revealed by the varsity’s Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center — is a lexicon of forbidden phrases that takes woke language policing to new depths of idiocy.

Avoiding these phrases, the college says, will stop those that have “experienced violence” from being additional harm. The guidelines aren’t necessary, however by permitting the listing to be circulated on an official web site, Brandeis has lent its authority to a thought-stifling mechanism — a tragic flip occasions for a college named after Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, an ardent free-speech champion.

Among the verboten phrases: “picnic” (as a result of of a bogus declare that the phrase is related to anti-black lynchings within the South) and “trigger warning” (as a result of the phrase “trigger” would possibly evoke violence; who knew that school professors issuing set off warnings of their syllabi had been truly . . . triggering their traumatized college students?).

It acquired worse this week when Gabriel Brahm, a revered scholar and a fellow on the Brandeis Summer Institute for Israel Studies, was warned not to put up in regards to the controversy on a college listserv. Brahm declared that he would withdraw from additional participation on the discussion board slightly than be censored on a web site ostensibly devoted to discussions of political controversies.

Brandeis University
The phrases on Brandeis University’s listing embrace “picnic” and “trigger warning.”
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Such forbidden-word lists have the impact of steering public discussions to the onerous left, by warping language itself to the contours of woke ideology. No marvel even some old-school liberals are talking out. Feminist literary icon Joyce Carol Oates poked enjoyable on the listing, noting that whereas it bans “picnic,” it doesn’t ban the phrase “lynch” itself or any quantity of different truly racist phrases.

The stupidity of the listing’s content material deserves some prolonged remedy.

The doc recapitulates a long-debunked declare that the expression “rule of thumb” stems from a justification for violence towards girls; a 18th-century English decide, runs the canard, known as a “rule of thumb” his judgment {that a} rod as thick as a thumb is permissible to be used by husbands disciplining their wayward wives.

The doc additionally seeks to erase from dialog such inoffensive language as “take a shot at,” “killing it,” “you guys,” “ladies and gentlemen,” “no can do,” in addition to objectively descriptive phrases resembling “prostitute,” “addict,” “mentally ill,” “homeless,” “wheelchair-bound” and even “victim” and “survivor” on the doubtful grounds that they’re hurtful.

This is all fodder for satirists, nevertheless it’s extra harmful than that. It stems not a lot from the ignorance of the scholars than from the leftist ideology they’re being fed by Marxist teachers who need to deconstruct American society and values. Each banned phrase serves to again up critical-race-theory dogma by eradicating varied swaths of actuality from linguistic entry.

That Brandeis, which was based as a haven for Jewish students and college students at a time when anti-Semitism was widespread, is the supply of this atrocity is greater than ironic. CRT and intersectionality, which outline Jews as “privileged” and “white,” have acted as a permission slip for Israel-bashing and anti-Semitism.

Like the way in which college students in China’s Cultural Revolution used Mao’s “Little Red Book” to intimidate their academics, this listing, which can doubtless be copied elsewhere, will make it even more durable for non-woke college and college students who have already got to stroll on eggshells to keep away from being canceled.

Ideas like essential race idea and intersectionality might first see the sunshine of day on school campuses, however as we’ve seen within the final yr, what occurs on campus doesn’t keep on campus. Since the George Floyd incident final yr, the left is deploying these seemingly fringe notions to justify defunding police and rewriting public-school curricula nationwide.

As Brahm says, “We’re all living on college campuses now.”

It’s time for extra professors and college students to arise to the novel bullies who’re driving this madness. The censors might begin with what they name dangerous language, however in the long term, the actual goal of these would-be tyrants is each American’s freedom of speech.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of

Twitter: @JonathanS_Tobin

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