A news outlet in Canada has released a list of words that it says could be deemed offensive and suggest that people “think twice” before use including words like spooky, blackmail, brainstorm, and blind-spot.
The Ottawa branch of CBC News, Canada’s public news outlet, recently posted an article titled “Words and phrases you may want to think twice about using.” It consulted a number of “anti-racism” experts and linguists to analyze a number of common words and phrases that some apparently consider offensive.
“Being an English speaker doesn’t entail that you necessarily know the racist etymology automatically,” professor Ai Taniguchi told the outlet, adding that people are not necessarily bad if they say the words.
Accordingly, the terms “blackmail,” “blacklist,” and “black sheep” are now problematic.
“The issue here is that these are all negative terms,” purported anti-racist trainer Joseph Smith said. “[It] connotes evil, distrust, lack of intelligence, ignorance, a lack beauty — the absence of white.”
Other words that could be offensive include “spooky,” “powwow,” “spirit animal,” and “tribe.”
“If a non-Indigenous person says ‘this is my tribe,’ I don’t think it’s OK, despite the fact that they’re using it presumably in a metaphorical way,” Taniguchi said.
The word “savage,” because of how it was used by European explorers, could also be seen as problematic according to the outlet, despite the fact that today it “has become a word used to describe someone who is fierce, or a situation that is intense — and carries a positive or semi-positive connotation.”
Terms like “brainstorm,” “blindsided,” and “blind-spot” are also included because blind people or people who have brain injuries might be offended by their use.
“Dumb” and “lame” are also out, according to some people CBC spoke to.
“People now are using lame as a slang, so they go around saying that’s lame,” said Julia Cashman of the Consumer Action Committee. “I don’t think they really understand what that means .. they just think it’s a cool term, but for me, when I hear that, I definitely know what that term means … it’s something I wouldn’t say.”
According to Cashman, people should also reconsider the phrase “tone deaf” and consider replacing it with “insensitive” or “musically disinclined.”
One of the individuals the outlet spoke with said that the reevaluation of words wasn’t about political correctness.
“It’s not so much about political correctness, I think it is about the empirical accuracy and … if somebody really calls us out on a particular word, we need to stop and say, ‘It’s not about me,'” Jas Kalra, “an anti-racism trainer,” said.
In recent years, there has been a crackdown, especially in academic settings, to root out words that could be seen as offensive.
Last year, The Daily Wire reported on the University of Michigan’s “Word’s Matter Taskforce.” Several of the words identified by the taskforce for replacement included “picnic,” “brownbag,” and “black list.”
The offensive word “brigade” has even come to the sports world.
In the NFL, the Washington Redskins changed their name to the Washington Football Team, and some have speculated that the name of the Masters needed to be removed from the annual golf tournament.
“The name ‘The Masters’ must go,” wrote Rob Parker at Deadspin, “The heralded golf tournament, one of the four majors, needs to go back to its original name — the Augusta National Invitational.”
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