“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”
— George Orwell, “1984”
Same concept. Different objective.
In a request for proposals to provide the New York City Department of Education standardized tests in English, math science and social-studies, the agency listed 50 words or topics that may not be used lest the words “evoke unpleasant emotions in the students.”
A world without thoughtcrime or a world without unpleasant emotions uses the same technique: Eliminate words and you eliminate the very thing.
The New York Post called it “a bizarre case of political correctness run wild.”
The list includes the word “birthday” because some religions don’t celebrate birthdays. Of course, the word “religion” or any reference to religion is banned. So are references to disease, divorce, terrorism, slavery, smoking, illegal drugs, hunting, war, violence, politics, homelessness and joblessness.
It also bans mentioning wealth or poverty. If there is no word for poverty, there is no poverty.
On the other hand, no word for politics does have a certain appeal in this election year.
The word dinosaur is forbidden because that raises the issue of evolution.
The Post quoted one educrat as saying, “The intent is to avoid giving offense or disadvantage any test takers by privileging prior knowledge.”
You’d not expect the ghetto dweller to know the difference between port and starboard, since they’ve never been on a yacht.
The good news is, at least for the moment, the practice reading proficiency test Nevada gives to high school students to qualify for a diploma is full of non-politically correct questions.
One paragraph in one reading passage, punches several emotional hot buttons, “‘Wanted: Daring young men, preferably orphans,’ read the newspaper advertisement. Fifteen-year-old William F. Cody applied for the job. He knew that this would be no ordinary way to earn an honest wage. It would be filled with danger, excitement, little rest, and most likely a fair number of saddle sores. Yet it offered Cody and more than 200 others a rare opportunity to earn a lot of money in a very short time.”
Other readings refer to cancer and death and loneliness.
Another passage claimed that “breathing air in the Los Angeles Basin is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.”
Here, according to the Post, is the full list of topics that if included on city exams would “probably cause a selection to be deemed unacceptable by the New York City Department of Education”:
Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological)
Alcohol (beer and liquor), tobacco, or drugs
Cancer (and other diseases)
Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes)
Children dealing with serious issues
Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia)
Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or public library setting)
Creatures from outer space
Dancing (ballet is acceptable)
Death and disease
Dinosaurs and prehistoric times
Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes
Gambling involving money
Homes with swimming pools
In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge
Loss of employment
Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
Television and video games (excessive use)
Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)
Vermin (rats and roaches)
War and bloodshed
Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.
(Source: NYC Department of Education Request for Proposals)