The earnest and slightly lunatic young scholars of Brandeis University have published an annotated list of “oppressive” and “offensive” words that will be banned on campus and in all student communications media. This list, the student publication noted, is in addition to the words previously banned, like “snowflake,” “tolerance,” “republican,” and “cancel culture.”
While a preface to the list admitted the students’ preference for simply banning all non-approved slogans and expressions in English because of the taint of racism, it was decided that the vast project of devising an entirely new woke language would need to wait. In the meantime, it seemed worthwhile to purge the most egregious uses of un-woke language and enforce the ban through antiseptic career doxing, well intentioned personal harassment, and, for the recalcitrant, the physical ministrations of largely peaceful Antifa arsonists.
Strikingly, most of the banned words were heard only yesterday in casual conversation. “Man,” and “woman,” for example, are now correctly seen as referring to hopelessly outmoded and erroneous ideas of gender distinctions. Brandeis suggests that in place of “man” we say, “male identifying human” or “dudist. For “woman,” there is “female identifying person,” and “femdudist” as well as the traditional rap terms “bitch” and “ho,” which are still correct, at least in musical contexts.
While nouns got off lightly, the list goes bad-ass on adjectives, including those like “crazy” and “lame” that imply some defect or variation from a mythical “norm” (another banned-ass word!). One now refers to a whacky idea by saying “that’s bananas,” which is not actually a word but a whole sentence. It is worth noting that the authors are careful to insist that bananas themselves are probably not “bananas” and that no offense to this popular fruit was intended. On the other hand, “lame” can, thankfully for those struggling with so much linguistic change, still be used in non-intellectual contexts, for example, when it is meant specifically to describe physically impaired persons, such as “cripples,” “limpers,” “gimps,” “crutchcreepers,” and “tripods” (four legged cripples).
For many readers of the list, the biggest surprise was the inclusion of the word “picnic” on the list, as most people had formerly understood that word to be safe and not at all offensive. Alas, the authors discovered that “picnic” has an obscure history that led, after some deep-ass scholarship, to the even more obscure report that feasts of hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad and toasted marshmallows were apparently an entertainment staple served at murderous lynchings.
In an end-note to the list, and in a nod to the new ways of speaking that will likely appear to future generations as obscure as the racist word “picnic,” the authors approved of the wide-spread usage of the “hyphen ass” intensifier, as in a “hard-ass test” or a “big-ass problem,” or a “funky-ass stink.” According to the Brandeis students, the word “ass” in this hyphenated usage is not at all offensive and does not discriminate against or ridicule any shape, size, color or sexual orientation of ass, although they agree that adding a “hyphen ass” to an adjective gives it some heft and color of novelty. As Captain Kirk in the Movie Star Trek: The Voyage Home” memorably replied to a rude driver who called him a dumb-ass, “well, double dumb-ass on you.”
Brandeis students would presumably agree that while some on the outside may think they have gone “that’s bananas” about offensive words, only a double dumb-ass would dare to call them “crazy” or “lame.”