Big Brother is Watching You: Stanford’s New ‘Harmful Language’ Guide

Big Brother is Watching You: Stanford’s New ‘Harmful Language’ Guide

Editor’s Note: The following piece is the only Review article that will ever contain a trigger warning. Why? Well… according to Stanford’s new ‘harmful language’ initiative, the phrase “trigger warning” is now unacceptable.

Stanford’s IT department recently launched its Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative, created by the Stanford CIO Council (CIOC) and People of Color in Technology (POC-IT). Stanford IT took a stab at putting together a master list of ‘harmful terms’ and suggested alternative phrases to use instead. Ironically, according to the guide, POC-IT should change its name, as people of color (used generically) is “imprecise language.” We at the Review are ballsy, therefore we’ve committed numerous violations of the ‘harmful language standard’ throughout the text — they are all bolded to show that we know the new rules, but choose to ignore them.

Ostensibly, the goal is to make people of color and other perceived victims of historical injustice more comfortable as users of Stanford technology. A cursory review of the page, however, should be shocking to any normal person for its sheer insanity. Though Stanford chose to hide the document behind a secure sign-on after it started circulating, you can view the entire list of ‘harmful language’ here.

Of course, this type of stupidity is no surprise coming from the Stanford administration. Stanford whips its freshmen into shape during its ultra-politically correct student orientation and continually pressures students to submit to the woke newspeak regime. These crazy and Orwellian rules of engagement on campus include putting one’s preferred pronouns on their dorm room door, and including them in all introductions as a rule of thumb.

The narrative about rampant discrimination against African-Americans and bias towards anyone who’s not straight are facts that are never to be questioned. And forget about being glad to be an American — that kind of pride is not allowed. Master these rules, we’re told, and our time at Stanford will be a cakewalk, where the bells of diversity and inclusion chime a merry tune.

According to the guide, a simple geographic descriptor like Philippine Islands, can harken back to ‘colonialism’ — despite the acknowledgment that “some people of Filipino heritage might use the term.” Meanwhile, an exclamation of joy like hip hip hooray somehow generates thoughts of the Holocaust as German citizens used it during Second World War “as a rallying cry.”

No longer can we say someone is addicted to cocaine — that “trivializes their experience” — instead we should say a person is “devoted” to cocaine, which is obviously much better. Choosing spirit animals is off the table, as according to the guide “the term refers to an animal spirit that guides/protects one on a journey, so to equate it with an animal one likes is to demean the significance of the term.” Welcome to 2022, where these kinds of fun discussions with friends are now harmful.

Something that’s also culturally offensive is the name Pocahontas, it allegedly “is a slur and should not be used to address an Indigenous woman unless that is her actual name.” Hmm… we wonder who this could be referencing? Fortunately, President Trump never violated this policy: his famous reference to Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas is fine because she is not Native American.

The phrase blackbox is also on the list, supposedly for assigning “negative connotations to the color black, racializing the term.” This ought to puzzle computer scientists, who know that a blackbox algorithm can often be a blessing. But we wouldn’t expect the Stanford IT department to know that given they can’t figure out how to design a functioning enrollment system. Whitespace also made the list for assigning “value connotations based on color (white = good).” Anyone who’s ever taken a test should be confused… after all, a lot of whitespace likely entails a failing grade.

Then there’s the gender section. Not only do we have to part with words like mankind (though sadly peoplekind was not a proposed alternative) and landlord/landlady (which uses “gender binary language that doesn’t include everyone”), it’s now offensive to refer to someone as ‘he’ or ‘she.’ No, according to the guide, we should only use the person’s name or the word “they” unless explicitly told otherwise.

Descriptive phrases like ‘immigrant’ and ‘prostitute’ are on the chopping block as well, with suggested alternatives “person who has immigrated” and “person who engages in sex work” that use “person-first language [which] helps to not define people by just one of their characteristics.” We propose the term “Stanford student” be added to the list, with the proposed ‘person-first’ alternative being “human being who attends college at Stanford University (they/them).” Rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Interestingly enough, there is one group that the guide is apparently okay with demeaning: white people. While the guide notes that Karen is “used to ridicule or demean a certain group of people based on their behaviors,” it states that the proper term is “demanding or entitled White woman,” which seems worse than just calling someone a Karen.

One group of people should be thrilled about these developments: students desperate to hit a word limit on an essay. Nearly every suggested replacement is significantly longer than the ‘problematic’ phrase it is replacing. To ensure professors don’t adopt these new standards and lengthen essay assignments accordingly, we are calling on all students to be brave and liberally use all words POC-IT considers harmful, so at least their guide will have another use besides a laughing-stock.

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