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Language Policing Has Officially Jumped the Shark

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | October 28, 2015 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | October 28, 2015 |

A ton has changed on this site since we published our first post back in 2004. As a site that started as a progressive political site, we try and remain progressive, which has meant evolving a lot over the years. There are a lot of words we used to use that we no longer use, as we’ve realized how insensitive they can be. For instance, you can’t use “retarded” anymore, no matter what context it’s in, and even if you live in New England, where every third word is “retahded.”

It’s not OK.

We’ve also learned a lot about shaming and bullying and how it’s not OK to make fun of people like Britney Spears or Amanda Bynes, and how to talk about weight and race and gender and privilege. Though we might briefly bristle at these changes, we do embrace them, and we’ve become a more thoughtful site and better people (I think).

But there’s got to be a line, right? You can only go so far before political correctness makes a caricature of itself and loses all its power. For instance, Mashable posted a list of 12 words that we ban from our vocabulary a few months ago, and while I agreed with some of the words on the list (“retarded,” “colored,” and “tranny”), and was on the fence about others (“derp”), there were a couple that were just like, “What the fuck?” We can’t use the word “lame” anymore because of the way it was originally used (to refer to those with limited mobility)? The word has evolved to mean something else entirely, and how are we supposed to describe Phil on Modern Family without using the word “lame.”

Likewise, we should strike the word “crazy” from our vocabulary because its origins are in mental illness. Should we also stop using the word “insane”? How are we supposed to describe Donald Trump?

Sometimes, the language policing goes too far. This week, for instance, a freshman at the University of Vermont, Cameron Schaeffer, wrote an op-ed entitled “The 3-Letter Word That Cuts Women Down Every Day.” Schaeffer vowed to strike the word too from her vocabulary.

In my experience, I rarely hear too thrown around about men. You hear someone say, “He’s short,” but you seldom hear “too short.” I hear women and men alike each day describing women as too something. But what does it really mean when you call a woman too? I asked myself, “too what?” I have determined that too means you’re calling a woman too far away from your idyllic vision of what a woman should be. Something as small as calling a woman’s dress too long or her muscles too built has a much larger social construct. With all the varying tastes and cultures in this world, it is impossible for a woman — or anyone, for that matter — to fulfill everyone’s criteria. And why is it our responsibility to satisfy them, anyway?

I am taking a vow to ban the word too from my vocabulary. I encourage others to take a look at themselves on the spectrum of injustice. We are all a part of it, and it is important to make a personal change, if that’s not too much to ask.

Maybe it’s my male white privilege speaking, but what? I totally get the reasoning behind the vow to stop using the word “too,” and it’s well intentioned, but isn’t that a little too precious? Have we taken it a little too far? Banning the word “too” is a little too much, don’t you think? This is where we get too P.C., and it starts to lose all its meaning.

There are definitely words that we should not be using anymore, but we can’t start throwing perfectly good adverbs. We need those! What’s next? “Just”? “Actually”? Am I going to wake up tomorrow and find out that all “ly” words have been stricken from the Internet? There are degrees of things, and sometimes we need to express that something has crossed into a higher degree than is desirable, permissible, or possible!

We must stick together! We must draw a line. We must not let “too” fall by the politically correct wayside! It’s a bridge “too” far. We must save this word so that future generations can continue to use “too” instead of “two” to denote sequels (Look Who’s Talking Too, Think Like a Man Too, Teen Wolf Too) and express our reservations about having too many cooks in the kitchen or condemning a capitalistic system where banks are too big to fail. Romantic reciprocation is built upon that very word: I LOVE YOU, TOO. We cannot leave our loved ones hanging!

Stop the madness. #SaveToo

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.