Educating Kids to Be Even More Useless: Protecting Them from Words

The story the New York City Department of Education evokes two ideas from George Orwell’s 1984, NewSpeak and the Memory Hole.

NewSpeak was the regime slang that was supposed to be more efficient than normal speech. The Memory Hole was a place for destroying news clippings so that they could be replaced by other stories.

In this case, the words are being sent down the Memory Hole so that a resulting new language comes into being.

From CBS Channel 2, New York City:

The New York City Department of Education is waging a war on words of sorts, and is seeking to have words they deem upsetting removed from standardized tests.

Fearing that certain words and topics can make students feel unpleasant, officials are requesting 50 or so words be removed from city-issued tests.

The word “dinosaur” made the hit list because dinosaurs suggest evolution which creationists might not like, WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond reported. “Halloween” is targeted because it suggests paganism; a “birthday” might not be happy to all because it isn’t celebrated by Jehovah’s Witnesses.


Words that suggest wealth are excluded because they could make kids jealous. “Poverty” is also on the forbidden list.


In a throwback to “Footloose,” the word “dancing” is also taboo. However, there is good news for kids that like “ballet”: The city made an exception for this form of dance.

Also banned are references to “divorce” and “disease,” because kids taking the tests may have relatives who split from spouses or are ill.

Do I need to spell out how insane this is? The claim is made that New York’s list of words must be extra long because New York is so diverse. But the whole point of diversity is to be exposed to what is different than you. There is no diversity where everything that might offend or hurt your feelings is annihilated.

Since the policy is driven by the fear that students might be offended, it seems to me this is another example of cowardocracy.