Language Police |

TBC Staff

Reuters, 5/28/2003: LOS ANGELES  - Oh heck: Hell hath no place in American primary and high school textbooks. 

But then again you can't find anyone riding on a yacht or playing polo in the pages of an American textbook either. The  texts also can't say someone has a boyish figure, or is a  busboy, or is blind, or suffers a birth defect, or is a biddy, or the best man for the job, a babe, a bookworm, or even a  barbarian. 

All these words are banned from U.S. textbooks on the  grounds that they either elitist (polo, yacht), sexist (babe,  boyish figure), offensive (blind, bookworm), ageist (biddy) or  just too strong (hell, which is replaced with darn or heck). God  is also a banned word in the textbooks because he or she is too religious. 

To get the full 500-word list of what is banned and why,  consult The Language Police, a new book by New YorkUniversity professor of education Dianne Ravitch, a former education official in President George H.W. Bush's  administration and a consultant to the Clinton administration. 

She says she stumbled on her discovery of what's allowed and not allowed by accident because publishers insist that they do not impose censorship on their history and English textbook authors but merely apply rules of sensitivity -- which have  expanded mightily since first introduced in the 1970s to weed out gender and racial bias. 

She says a lot of people are having fun finding new titles  for Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, which presents  problems with every word except "and" and "the." Ravitch said  old is ageist, man is sexist and sea can't be used in case a  student lives inland and doesn't grasp the concept of a large body of water.