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Darrell Huckaby: Is it 'politically correct' or just 'dumbed down?'

Darrell Huckaby

Darrell Huckaby

I'm pretty sure it started when Roger Dancz removed the word "Dixie" from the name of the Georgia Redcoat Band in favor of political correctness.

You may recall that legendary Atlanta radio personality Ludlow Porch satirized the UGA band director's decision with a soliloquy in which he suggested that Redcoats should be dropped from the title as well for fear of offending people whose ancestors might have died at the hands of British soldiers during the Revolutionary War -- or the more recent War of 1812. He also suggested removing the word Georgia from the name because there were lots of folks from Alabama and Mississippi and even foreign nations, like Pennsylvania and New Jersey, who might take offense at the state name.

Ludlow also reminded everyone that many people died at the hands of bands of marauding Indians, too -- so if Mr. Porch had his way, the group that marched onto the Sanford Stadium turf would be henceforth known as "The."

You might have thought ol' Ludlow had completely lost it if you didn't realize he was just poking fun at the political correctness police, but he might very well have simply been a man ahead of his time.

Last week, in New York City, a proposal was made that makes calling the band formerly known as the "Dixie Redcoats" simply "The" look perfectly logical.

And what you are about to read -- well, I ain't making this up, y'all. It is so.

The New York Board of Education came out with a long list of words that it intended to ban from any and all test questions, for fear of offending someone's sensitivities. Well, that's understandable. Nobody wants school children to be offended, any more than we want to damage their self esteem by actually failing them if they haven't proved they have learned anything. But you ought to see that list!

Dinosaur is on the list. Why, you might ask? Easy. There might be a Christian fundamentalist taking the test who does not believe in evolution and the mention of the word dinosaur might conjure up all sorts of anti-religious sentiments and destroy that child's psyche forever.

Shoot fire. I'm a Christian fundamentalist myself, but I'm not offended by dinosaurs. I used to watch "The Flintstones" every week -- although I never quite got the Christmas episodes, since they were living in 50,000 B.C. or whatever it was -- but I still liked watching Fred and Barney, and Wilma was kind of hot. I never thought to be offended by the fact that they had a pet dinosaur.

"Birthday" is on the list, too. Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in celebrating them and we can't offend Jehovah's Witnesses -- even though they can knock of my front door during Christmas dinner every year.

Oh, yeah. You can't mention Christmas, either. Nor can you use "Halloween" on a test question in New York City. We would hate to conjure up images of paganism. I am not sure if you can use "conjure" or not.

You cannot use "divorce," in case you were wondering -- or even if you weren't. That word will be allowed, soon, however, because few children will have divorced parents because fewer and fewer couples who have children are bothering to get married in the first place.

"Baby-daddy" is apparently acceptable. "Rock 'n' roll" is not. Don't ask me on that one.

Test makers would be allowed to mention office or workplace computers but could not mention home computers, because there might be children that didn't have one, and we wouldn't want anyone to have to read about something they didn't have. Goodness gracious! Our teachers at Porterdale School couldn't have tested us all because most of us didn't have a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out.

"Disease" is on the list. "Death" is on the list. "Celebrity" is on the list. And the teachers couldn't use words about travel or vacation or gifts or prizes -- because everybody doesn't get gifts or prizes or travel or go on vacation. Can't mention "junk food." I guess that would make kids hungry and we do have this obesity epidemic going on. Politics, poverty, television and video games -- all banned.

I think the New York School Board was out to prove that Mark Twain was right when he said, "God made idiots for practice, and then he made school boards."

None of that could be used on a test in New York, by the way.

There is a modern term for the New York Board of Education's proposal. It's called "dumbing down" education, and it is as rampant as obesity.

But not to fear! Even as I was typing this column, breaking news came over the wire that the New York City Board of Education had revoked the list of banned words, as of 6:14 p.m. Monday.

Whew! That's a relief.

Now if we could just get somebody to do something about the Georgia Redcoat Band.

Excuse me! No offense intended. I meant "The."

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.