We are all aware of the seven dirty words you can’t say on television, and we can thank George Carlin for that.
But here’s a new twist: this roster was masterminded by the comedians that work in the New York City Department of Education. Sorry, George, you can stop spinning in your grave now.
According to a report on 1010 WINS this week the agency wants these 50 words banned from standardized tests.
“Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological); Alcohol (beer and liquor); tobacco, or drugs; Birthday celebrations (and birthdays); Bodily functions; Cancer (and other diseases); Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes); Celebrities; Children dealing with serious issues; Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia); Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting); Crime; Death and disease; Divorce; Dinosaurs; Evolution; Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes; Gambling involving money, (is there another kind of gambling?); Halloween; Homelessness; Homes with swimming pools; Hunting; Junk food; In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge; Loss of employment; Nuclear weapons; Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling); Parapsychology; Politics; Pornography; Poverty; Rap Music; Religion; Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan); Rock-and-Roll music; Running away; Sex; Slavery; Terrorism; Television and video games (excessive use); Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters);
Vermin (rats and roaches); Violence; War and bloodshed; Weapons (guns, knives, etc.); and last but not least, Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.”
Festival shouldn’t even be on the list, it’s such a friendly word.
I’m sorry, but all I can say is, “Are they kidding?”
According to reporter Maria Diamond, the reason these words are on the banned list is “they can make students feel unpleasant.” Dennis Walcott, the school’s chancellor said “dinosaur” made the hit list because dinosaurs suggest evolution, which creationists might not like. Walcott added that “Halloween” is targeted because it suggests paganism; and birthday might make children unhappy because it isn’t celebrated by Jehovah’s Witnesses. What?
It would seem that with all the current controversy surrounding the practices of the agency, tenure, incompetent teachers, teacher evaluations, and children coming out of school not knowing how to read or add — the above suggested ban of words should be the last thing on Walcott’s mind.
What’s next — Fahrenheit 451?
Each and every word above is in use everyday by everyone all the time, and to single any one of them out of the over 1,013,913 words currently in the English language, is just plain ludicrous. But “ludicrous” and “dumb bureaucrats with too much time on their hands,” didn’t make the list. Maybe they should have.
To paraphrase the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, banning these words is “defining dumbness down.”
Years ago, I remember the agency banning the word “sofa,” because it felt that children from lower income families would not know that a sofa was a couch and if it was used they would be at a disadvantage.
Well, “sofa” was expelled and the students are still at a disadvantage. Go figure. The agency should ban ridiculous lists.
Not for Nuthin, but this nonsense really needs to end. Mr. Walcott, I suggest you stop worrying that some words might make children feel unpleasant and start worrying about the fact that our children are poorly educated — now that’s really unpleasant.
Reach reporter Joanna DelBuono at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-2523.