Another self-appointed language policeman reports for duty
Recently, the Sierra Club released its "Equity Language Guide," to demonstrate its "commitment to equity, justice, and inclusion" by using "respectful, thoughtful language in all of our communications."
Sierra supports reparations for Black people, claiming that it's "impossible to create a healthy, safe, and sustainable planet without acknowledging and materially addressing the past and present economic, cultural, psychological, and spiritual impacts of racism."
The "Equity Language Guide" is a continuation of the inglorious tradition of shallow virtue-signaling.
The guide has recommendations based on various criteria such as ableism, ageism, classism, racial and sexual identity, etc.
The Guide urges people to refrain from words such as "stand," "blind," and even "paralyzed."
"Stand" is now an ableist slur because not everyone can stand.
Hence, "I stand with President Trump" could be replaced with "I am with President Trump."
Perhaps "am with" implies a functioning mind; that too is ableist and discriminatory against those who suffer from impaired mental faculties.
Perhaps Sierra will ban "am with" in its next edition.
"Blind" also falls in the same category, since it is insulting to the disabled. Perhaps "blindsided" will be restricted. Hence, "we got blindsided by our own government" will be replaced by "we were caught unaware by our own government."
The guide also rejects the term "disabled" in favor of "people living with disabilities," while "enslaved person" has replaced "slave."
Sierra is advocating for "people-first language," where an individual "is first and foremost a person, not their disability or other identities."
The guide cautions against using "manmade" and "you guys" and recommends gender-neutral language such as "human-caused" and "y'all."
Sierra recommends that the term "illegal" to describe a person who "lacks legal permission to live or work in the U.S." be replaced by "undocumented immigrant" or "someone with a complex immigration status."
"American" and "citizen" are unacceptable, since not everyone living in this country is a citizen.
Sierra wages war against common nouns and recommends that "native or indigenous" be replaced by a specific tribal name.
"Tribal Nations" must be replaced by, for example, "Comanche land."
Sierra recommends that "defining people of color as 'minorities' is not recommended because of changing demographics and "it reinforces ideas of inferiority and marginalization of a group of people."
Sierra even has recommendations regarding "visual imagery."
Sierra recommends that publishers "strive to show people as they are," citing mainstream publications that "photoshop people's faces, bodies and/or skin color to make them adhere to narrowly defined, biased and largely Eurocentric tastes."
There are numerous such ludicrous examples.
The Guide almost reads like a parody piece.
Apart from the content, the real joke here is that the authors of the Guide think they are conferring a great favor upon
So what does one make of this?
Most human beings are language-conscious. We don't need guides.
We may use swear words among friends over drinks on a Friday evening, but not with parents, and certainly not in the office.
We know not to use racial or ethnic slurs. We learn every day and improve ourselves.
We know that calling an obese friend who is dejected about the size of his girth a "fat pig" is usually hurtful. Instead, we encourage him to lose weight and perhaps gift him a membership to a health club.
Some individuals many not be offended by derisive humor. In fact, it may motivate them to get back into shape. Everyone is different, and we generally know how to distinguish.
It is not just spoken language or official documents.
So what does one make of this?
First, language is constantly evolving.
The word "gorgonize" from the early 17th century, which means to have a mesmerizing effect on someone, is never used. You don't say "I was gorgonized by her beauty." Instead, you say, "I was enamored by her beauty."
The word "pundit," which means expert, is a recent addition to the English language. It originates from the Sanskrit word "pandit" (पण्डित), which means learned.
It is best to allow language to evolve naturally.
Bigoted language has been used all through history to dehumanize groups of people, and it must be confronted. But if everything is deemed offensive, nothing ever is, and the Sierra guide trivializes what is a serious matter.
The problem is that people who think like the authors of the Sierra language guide are in positions of power.
Recently, a Supreme Court justice during her confirmation struggled to define a woman, despite being one. It wasn't her ignorance; she was encumbered by the restrictions placed by the self-appointed language and morality police.
In times like these, restrictions could become part of the law, and punishments could be awarded for "violations.'"
Remember how actor Sylvester Stallone faced fines in the futuristic comedy Demolition Man?
Recently, a teacher was sacked for "misgendering" a trans student. There are myriad other cases of job losses and cancelation for the usage of "restricted" terms, despite the lack of malice.
How do the woke mob, who want their teachers sacked for misgendering, fare with their language?
Recently, during a speech at Stanford University's School of Law, a Trump-appointed federal judge was shouted down by woke student protesters and was supported by an administrator.
Why did they shout him down? He was appointed by Trump, so in their minds, he is racist, sexist, xenophobic, etc.
There are already attempts to revise fiction — which must be prevented, because art is a reflection of the times during which it was conceived. There could be attempts to revise history to suit the current narrative.
As Orwell observed: "Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past."
In the end, being offended is purely subjective. An obscenity-laden comedy roast could be hilarious to one person, while children's fairy tales could be offensive to another.
If these attempts to erase all that is offensive continue, will they someday result in a blank page?
We simply cannot allow a few to dictate what should be consumed by all.
Common sense is the best language guide.