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March 16, 2014

Column: Banning the new 'B-word' teaches girls the wrong lesson

Isn’t it great that society has reached such a highly evolved, sophisticated level that we don’t burn books anymore, like the narrow minded moralizers of the past? We’re all about diversity of opinion and the right of free expression.

Uh, well, not so much, actually. Today we “burn” words.

It started with those words deemed hateful, that were dehumanizing or degrading to certain minority groups. We all know what they are – the N-word for African Americans, the F-word for homosexuals, the R-word for the developmentally disabled. They’re banned unless the members of the group decide to use them. These days the rest of us can get fired or even charged with a crime for saying them.

That’s never enough for those who claim they just want a more civil and sensitive society, who really are the current, politically correct version of the thought police. They believe that by controlling what we say, they can control what we think.

So, they have moved from hateful terms to banning those they consider merely “negative” or “discouraging.” Hence the fawning cover story in Parade magazine this past week celebrating the campaign by a number of America’s “most dynamic leaders” — including Facebook Chief Operating Officer Cheryl Sandberg, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chávez — to ban the word “bossy.”

As writer Lynn Sherr helpfully explained, the word is “a negative label they say is too often applied to young girls, and one of the many ways we discourage them from speaking up.”

OK, it is definitely a negative label. I don’t think I’ve ever heard “bossy” used as a compliment. But there were no statistics offering any proof that the term is applied more often to young girls than to anyone else.

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