Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Word Banning in New York Sparks a Writing Prompt for You!


I guess it's official, New York City is now as politically correct as we are out here in California. Oh please! Did you read this? NYC Bans Halloween, Birthday, Aliens and More on school tests. So, now there can be no mention of things such as "homes with swimming pools" (There go the math questions about volume and gallons), "slavery" (history, Oops! Can't study the Civil War), and "children dealing with serious illnesses" (biology- no more discussions about life prior to the polio vaccine).

No, I haven't turned Fortnight of Mustard into a political rant blog. But we talk words here and censorship. It's interesting how one bit of language censorship just may have ramifications nobody thought of.

Writing prompt time! World build a place where they don't allow certain words to be spoken. How does that effect the culture over time?

In college, we studied the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, which theorizes that language effects how you view the world. I don't know if I completely buy into that, but you can use it while doing your writing prompt. :)

Anyhow, here is thelist of banned words they came up with in NYC. Your fictitious culture may have its own list. Probably should have its own because it's a totally different culture than New York. I think mine will outlaw the use of the words "hunger" and "games." LOL  Just kidding
  • Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological)
  • Alcohol (beer and liquor), tobacco, or drugs
  • Birthday celebrations (and birthdays)
  • Bodily functions
  • Cancer (and other diseases)
  • Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes)
  • Celebrities
  • Children dealing with serious issues
  • Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia)
  • Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting)
  • Crime
  • Death and disease
  • Divorce
  • Evolution
  • Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes
  • Gambling involving money
  • Halloween
  • Homelessness
  • Homes with swimming pools
  • Hunting
  • Junk food
  • In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge
  • Loss of employment
  • Nuclear weapons
  • Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
  • Parapsychology
  • Politics
  • Pornography
  • Poverty
  • Rap Music
  • Religion
  • Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
  • Rock-and-Roll music
  • Running away
  • Sex
  • Slavery
  • Terrorism
  • Television and video games (excessive use)
  • Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)
  • Vermin (rats and roaches)
  • Violence
  • War and bloodshed
  • Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
  • Witchcraft, sorcery, etc

9 comments:

Nissa Annakindt said...

Is there anything left that they can talk about? Can you even have a conversation when you have to be constantly checking the list of banned topics?

In the world I'm working on right now, maybe talking about cannibalism is banned. Since their hereditary enemy is a nation usually referred to as the 'Eaters of Men'. (It's OK to say 'Eaters of Men' though. You just can't talk about what they eat.)

Jeremy Bates said...

That is absolutely insane! The problem lies in the fact that people are much too sensitive these days. I don't like PC talk or writing, and I especially detest the fact that anyone would want to curtail the usage of any word.

I'm still shaking my head wondering who the lamebrain(s) are that enacted this.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Nissa, exactly. And there's my problem because I'm lousy at idle chit-chat. You know. "How's the weather?" I either don't talk at all or I go right to talking about everybody's life stories and thoughts on things. My husband says I don't know how to stick to appropriate topics.

Jeremy. I'm with you. It's crazy insane. To think, somebody thought up the idea, made the list, and more than one person had to approve it.

And this isn't unusual. I am so glad I homeschool my kids!

Lydia Kang said...

So all we have left to write about is puppies? C'mon!

Amanda Borenstadt said...

LOL Yep!

Shelley HW said...

Oh how strange and perverse to ban those words. What small-minded person or persons. I shake my head and shudder, but I do like your writing assignment. :)
Banning words walks along the same line for me as swearing. They are just words but the majority of society has given them more power, a forbidden intrigue. I swear and feel much better afterword (most often), but explain to my young son that they are just words afterall, and any word can be manipulated. For example, my son says "Cesar Salad!" with such conviction people turn to look at us agast. ;)

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Shelley~ That's so cute about "Cesar Salad!" LOL
My sister lets her son say one bad word a day, but it has to be within the context of a joke.

Since the day this list came out, my homeschooled girls and I have been trying to work "backyard swimming pools" into our daily lessons." :)

Joylene said...

Are these creatures nuts? Someone put something in their cornflakes? This is absurd. It's almost laughable. These are sane, normal folks? I'm dumbfounded. Really. And almost speechless. I'm be embarrassed if I was there.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Joylene, I know, it's so crazy!

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