The title of this blog post is an homage to Jimmy Kimmel's brilliant "This Week In Unnecessary Censorship," a recurring bit on Kimmel's show in which video clips of mostly politicians, but also other famous people are shown, altered by Kimmel's staff with unnecessary bleeps and blurs to make it look as if, for example, George Bush Sr were swearing like a sailor, or as if Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland were mooning the public before hot cameras. Kimmel is too modest, of course: what he's doing is quite useful in pointing out how ridiculous censorship is. Here comes the headline from this blog, but uncensored. Clutch your pearls:
"Pope Francis' Reforms May Be Bigger Than Anyone Dreamed"
I bet a lot of you were thinking that the bleeped word was a lot naughtier than "reforms"!
What has prompted me to such disgusting behavior? The Ban Bossy movement, is what. Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, wants us to stop saying "bossy" because it discourages girls from leading, or so some people say. I don't want to discourage girls from leading. But I also don't want people to tell me stop using this or that word. Telling me to do that is... Oh, what's the right word for something like that? ... It's on the tip of my tongue.
As I pointed out in two recent Wrong Monkey posts, here and here, and in other blog posts and elsewhere, I don't think that banning individual words is a great idea. Or even so much as a mediocre one. I agree with the goals of the PC speech movement: empowerment. Overcoming discrimination. Increasing people's respect for one another. Yes, yes, yes! Sign me up for all of that. But I think that the method of the PC speech movement, identifying individual words and then discouraging people from using those words, is just fucking awful.
You want to talk about language? Okay, let's talk about language. Let's get down and dirty and nitty and gritty and talk about it. Kim Keating has jumped aboard the Ban Bossy bandwagon. What's that? you never heard of Kim Keating? Me neither. Let's see how she describes herself in her HP Blogger's Bio:
"Kim Keating is founder and managing director of Keating Advisors. With over 18 years of experience, Kim serves as a trusted advisor to individuals and leading organizations. Under her guidance and expertise, Kim helps organizations develop a clear talent management vision and strategy. She specializes in working with leaders to align their strategy and build compensation systems that are objective, transparent, and support fair and equal pay. She help individuals negotiate more effectively and women, in particular, to level the playing field by providing customized compensation data."
Never heard of Keating Asvisors? Let's see how they describe themselves:
"Keating Advisors is a strategic human resource consulting firm that helps clients develop innovative talent management strategies and reward systems."
For all I know, Ms Keating and Keating Associates may be brilliant at helping companies, and, in particular, at getting fair and competitive pay for women. And if they are, that's great. That's very important work. But if after 18 years as a human resources consultant, she can't hire somebody who can write better than that, then she's one of the last people I want telling me how to use language.
We've got POETS for that sort of thing. I can't say it enough, I want the same things that advocates of PC speech want, and I couldn't disagree more strongly with their methods in trying to achieve those goals. I'm not going to support PC speech, and I'm not going to try to advance someone to the chairmanship of General Electric based on her or his skill at writing sonnets. And that's that.