Haven’t they got better things to do?

Tunbridge Wells Council banned the word ‘brainstorming’ on the grounds that they thought it might offend epileptics (which it didn’t) and replaced it with the phrase ‘thought shower’.

Now, Chichester Council has decided to remove ‘the man in the street’ from the muncipal language because ‘it is not a fair reflection of reality and makes either the views or work of women invisible’.

Yer ‘avin a larf, aren’t you?

Nope, they’re serious. The ‘man in the street’, a well-known phrase, is to be no more. And it doesn’t stop there.

Parish councils in the area have been sent a ‘guide’, instructions relating to which words or phrases should be avoided wherever possible. The council says the document, distributed to all staff and council members, is not a rule book, but a guide to help staff and members find the ‘right’ word.

So what else is on the ‘hit list’?

‘Manning the telephone’ or ‘manning the switchboard’ – out of the question.

‘Pensioners’, ‘OAP’ – forget it. These labels apparently refer to people in terms of a ‘benefit’ and therefore suggest dependence.

‘Girl’, ‘Lady’ – Due to the fact that terms referring to woman carry more overtones, ‘girl’ and ‘lady’ are to be avoided. Further justification on this one is given by the statement that you rarely hear men at work referring to each other as ‘boy’ or ‘gentleman’, the masculine equivalents.

‘Old woman’, ‘old fool’, ‘old codger’ – Don’t even think about it. These stereotype old people as fussy, stupid and dependent.

‘Miss’, ‘Mrs’ – Only if a woman makes it clear that she wishes to be so addressed is it permissible, otherwise a definite no-no.

‘Gay’ when referring to both men and women – The reasoning behind this one is that, although the term is used to refer to both men and women, it is more commonly used for men.

And a tester for you. What is wrong with the following:

‘A manager is responsible for the safety of his staff.’

Yes, the words ‘his’ and ‘he’ give the impression that women are excluded from these roles and makes them invisible. So what do you use? If you say ‘A manager is responsible for staff safety’ then the implication is that they are responsible for everyone’s staff, not just their own.

And if you have ‘Managers are responsible for the safety of their staff’ then you run into the same problem. ‘Their’.

Presumably, although it is not stated, it would not be permissible to say ‘The Mother Superior is responsible for the safety of her staff’.

Or are we, as usual, on a one way street here?

The sad part is that taxpayers’ money is being spent to come up with nonsense like this. Haven’t they got better things to spend it on, like medicines or more binmen?

Ah well. Due to current personing levels I’ve got to go and person the phone lines, but at least they have provided a film for me to watch. One of my favourite Disney’s, in fact, ‘The Ms and the Locationally Challenged Individual’.

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