A newly expanded list of language to avoid using at one ultra-woke college now warns against joking about obsessive-compulsive disorder — unless you’ve actually been diagnosed with it.
More than a dozen words and phrases have been added to Brandeis University’s widely mocked compendium of “violent” and “identity-based” terminology ahead of the start of its fall semester on Thursday.
But the elite Massachusetts institution’s Prevention, Advocacy & Resource Center, which compiled the list, also notes that what “may be offensive for an outsider to say might be acceptably used by a member of that group.”
The additions include, “‘I’m so OCD’ (outside of actually having OCD).”
The PARC’s “suggested alternative” — for those who don’t “actually” have OCD — is “I’m very organized, detailed oriented.”
Meanwhile, the staffers and students who run the PARC even washed out their own mouths earlier this month, changing the name of the “Oppressive Language List” to the “Suggested Language List.”
A footnote on the introductory webpage says that “we retitled this list to center the suggested alternatives rather than the words and phrases that may cause harm.”
The new additions also include “whipped into shape,” which PARC says can evoke “imagery of enslavement and torture.”
Instead, students and staffers at the school in Waltham — which charges more than $76,000 a year for tuition, room and board, and a mandatory “activity fee” — are advised to say “organize,” “spruce up” or “put in order.”
A new collection of “violent idioms about animals” contains “more than one way to skin a cat,” “killing two birds with one stone” and “beating a dead horse.”
“These expressions normalize violence against animals,” the PARC says.
Better choices, respectively, are “multiple ways to accomplish the task,” “feeding two birds with one seed; taking care of two things at once” and “refusing to let something go,” it says.
“Handicapped space” has been added to the terms that “can contribute to stigmas about and trivializes the experiences of people living with disabilities, mental health conditions, and more,” as has “spaz” — which should be replaced with “clumsy.”
And forget about calling that white tank top a “wife beater” anymore.
“This term trivializes relationship violence,” the group says.
The latest updates came despite the scorn and derision that greeted the original Oppressive Language List when it surfaced in June.
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Joyce Carol Oates questioned what punishment might face faculty members who were to use any of the proscribed words and phrases.
“Loss of tenure, public flogging, self-flagellation?” she wrote in a series of tweets.
In a column for The Atlantic magazine, leading linguist and Columbia University professor John McWhorter also wrote that “we are being preached to by people on a quest to change reality through the performative policing of manners.”
In response to the controversy, the PARC removed at least one term — “picnic” — which it had claimed was “associated with lynchings of Black people in the United States, during which white spectators were said to have watched while eating.”
Brandeis didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson said previously that the list was “in no way an accounting of terms that Brandeis students, faculty or staff are prohibited from using or must substitute instead.”
“It is simply a resource that can be accessed by anyone who wants to consider their own language in an effort to be respectful of others who may have different reactions to certain terms and phrases,” spokesperson Julie Jette added.
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