Show more

"José's mother is a prizefighter, and his father a receptionist in a hair salon. If his mother makes $40,000 a fight, and his father earns minimum wage, how many years will it take for José's people to throw off the yoke of colonial oppression?"

If you've attended high school in the past 20 years, you've probably taken tests with questions that remind you of this one--questions designed not to simply elicit information about how the way the world is, but to make a case for how it should be. Questions that amount to political propaganda.

Subtle and not-so-subtle propaganda is everywhere in schools: in textbooks, tests, videos, and teachers' guides. None of this will come as a complete surprise to those familiar with modern education. What's stunning is the extent of the manipulation. Virtually every word read in American classrooms have been manipulated for political effect.

The proof is contained in a brilliantly new book by Diane Ravitch, called The Language Police. Ravitch spent years studying how tests and textbooks are written. In the course of her research, she discovered that educational publishers apply rigid, politically motivated standards to the words and images that can be used in school materials. These "guidelines," Ravitch writes, amount to a "strict code of censorship."

Much of the pressure comes from the Far Left (liberals), which wants to enlist language in its fight to free America from white male domination, traditional views of family, and unapologetic patriotism. But the Religious Right is on the act, too, seeing threats to faith in the most innocuous words.

It all adds up to a huge challenge for authors of textbooks and tests. Imagine writing an entire book on U.S. history without making liberal use of the words America and Americans, both of which, publishers claim, suggest "geographical chauvinism." Imagine being prohibited from referring to the dinosaurs or fossils because because they imply evolution. Imagine a ban on calling someone "insane," even if he is, on the grounds that the word might offend the mentally ill.

And that's just the beginning. In academic writing, the spectre of gender discrimination haunts even the most innocent-sounding words. Did you know, for instance, that the word fraternize is sexist? If not, you obviously haven't read the guidelines prepared by the publisher Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Ever use the phrase Adam and Eve? Stop now, advises the American Philosophical Association. Say Eve and Adam instead, "to demonstrate that males do not take priority over females."

Above all, if you're going to write textbooks or compose tests, you've got to ignore reality. Do not depict boys and men as "larger and heavier than women and girls," even though they usually are. Likewise, do not show men as "more aggressive than women" or "playing sports" or "working with tools."

As for women in textbooks, they should bear no resemblance to women who actually exist. They should not be teachers or nurses. They should not cook or shop, nor be more nurturing than men. Mothers, particularly, should not be shown "comforting children, hugs, kisses, or hot milk at bedtime." That would be wrong.

And don't step into the minefield of race and ethnicity. On modern academic literature, that's become a no man's land. (Pardon, no person's land.) Vulgar, antiquated stereotypes about ethnic groups have long been unacceptable, and that's a good thing. But now even harmless, complimentary generalizations are verboten.

The state of Massachusetts prohibits the depiction of Asian Americans as studious, intelligent, or "having strong family ties." In New York, where for years Korean immigrants have owned and operated many of the city's fruit markets, schools are forbidden from portraying Korean Americans as "owning or working in fruit markets." And nowhere is it acceptable to show police officers as Irish. Because there are no Irish cops. Never have been.

Hispanic men must never be shown wearing mustaches. African Americans should never be seen living in crowded urban areas, nor should they be shown "living in innocuous, dull, white-picket-line-fence neighborhoods." (The guidelines leave no clue as to where black people should live.) Old people should be portrayed neither as "sweet and gentle" nor as "irritable and pompous." It's safest to depict the elderly as having no personalities at all.

In Ravitch's book, the list goes on for 30 pages in an appendix entitled "A Glossary of Banned Words." It makes infuriating reading, though there are some amusing moments. Some years ago the state of California banned all mention of unhealthy foods from its textbooks, presumably in the belief that if children don't read about Twinkies, they'll never be tempted to eat one.

The idea didn't work--kids in California still like sugary food--but the censorship remained. In one case, textbook publishers were forced to change the title of a short story for a California junior-high literature anthology: "A perfect Day for Ice Cream" was renamed "A Perfect Day." With the dangerous words removed, the book was deemed safe for children.

Astounding? Yes. Appalling? Without question. But also, perhaps, a hopeful sign. **Censorship this ridiculous can't last forever.**

Reader's Digest
October, 2003
Pages 43-46


I literally cannot wait to dig into this!! It's what I've been wanting!

sexual boundaries 

@squeedoodle "Bu-ut she's showing her cleavaaage!11! Why can't I sta-are??!!?"
I think of women doing this like fishing: many of them she's caught she's throwing them back in the water because they just didn't seem all that tasty.

LOL valid.. though I'd pick the term "communist" not soviet here. More valid that way IMO.

Ya know how some of the less intelligent people on social media keep griping about how the death toll of COVID-19 is no worse than a normal flu... well next time show them this graph. Too slow plus I only know how to through or my which may or may not count as "real" tor :sad_cat:

For the purposes of compared privacy*, security*, anonymity*, and so on, how difficult is it for bad actors to phreak a landline as opposed to a smartphone or other mobile?

Furthermore, how much more info would be gathered from a compromised smart- or even dumbphone as opposed to a landline?

Also I was reminded one shouldn't bother bringing stuff up like this to non-tech/-security types as I just had to respond to my dad's "we are never going to be able to get away from being tracked / no matter what you do, someone will know what ur doing / landlines can be tapped into easily / you're pissing into the wind" (surprised I didn't get the tired old "if you're doing nothing illegal what's the problem?" with "We'll never get away with cars and homes being broken into, but we still lock our doors don't we? / We'll never get away from accidental pregnancies, but we still use birth control, right? / And no matter what you do, you'll eventually die of old age. / Gonna get sick anyway so why bother with health insurance? / Gonna have to go outside eventually so why live in a home or apartment? / Gonna get hungry anyway so why eat? Gonna get thirsty anyway so why drink?" SIGH, this has to be a named fallacy since it's brought up so, so often!!

* Of course we know phones are a joke when it comes to these, especially anonymity, but comparatively between the two...

Show more
Qoto Mastodon

QOTO: Question Others to Teach Ourselves
An inclusive, Academic Freedom, instance
All cultures welcome.
Hate speech and harassment strictly forbidden.