The Ink Penn

I have one general guideline for myself in writing my columns: refrain from expressing anger or writing anything controversial— anything that might cause folks to get up in arms, or worse, angry with me. That’s why I don’t mention politics or roadwork and traffic irritants even when I have an opinion. I do occasionally write a thought-provoking column, but I lean more towards the lighthearted.

With that guideline in mind, I will attempt to “report” the news I’ve gathered from the PC Police without expressing my opinion about said news lest I offend someone. Chances are If you’ve been reading my columns long enough, you can probably guess my opinion on all of this.

First, I caught wind of the banning of the Christmas song “Baby, it’s cold outside.” I saw a brief mention of the ban online and thought I’d misunderstood. Then, a British Facebook group went into more detail about a newscaster reporting how inappropriate and offensive the song lyrics are. An AJC article on the topic came next.

I laughed when the Brits followed up with a tongue-in-cheek list of additional Christmas songs that were offensive to one group or another and should also be banned. Next, the same British group requested that parents cease telling their children that their tablets, phones, and computers came from Santa because the children who didn’t get those gifts might feel unworthy.

Last, I picked up the AJC to read that a high school in England had banned kids from wearing certain expensive jackets to school. Why? Because seeing the jackets caused students who couldn’t afford them to feel bad. The school powers that be went so far as to deem the wearing of expensive jackets a form of bullying.

In the same article, I read that Journalism professors at Leeds Trinity University, also in England, had been told to avoid using the words “do” and “don’t” in class and in writing and also to avoid using all caps for emphasis. Finding this bit of news weirdly fascinating, I turned to the internet to dig deeper. An internal university memo explained that these words can cause anxiety, and anxiety can lead to failure. The word “don’t” in all caps is considered especially egregious.

As I pondered why only Journalism students were receiving protection from anxiety-provoking language, I read that the University of Manchester’s student union voted to ban clapping and cheering at events like debates, panel discussions, and talks because the noise could cause anxiety in students with sensory issues. There was no concern expressed for the speakers and debaters.

Using jazz hands was designated the preferred way to cheer. A visit to my trusty online dictionary revealed the definition of jazz hands as “a gesture in which the hands are waved rapidly to and fro with the palms facing forward and the fingers splayed, used typically to express or indicate excitement or triumph.”

I wonder whether the use of jazz hands will catch on here in the states at colleges and universities. I can see it now: Unpopular speakers could speak and be heard if students and staff were banned from jeering, booing, and using profane language to run them off the stage. Would college students see that as a welcome or unwelcome change on our campuses?

All of this news from the PC Police makes me think of the law of unintended consequences. As I’m coming dangerously close to expressing an opinion and maybe even climbing on my soapbox, I think I’ll go to my room and practice my jazz hands.

Kathy is a Sandy Springs resident. Find her books, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch” and “The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday,” at the Enchanted Forest, Amy’s Hallmark at the Forum and Mansell Crossing, and on Amazon. Contact her at inkpenn119@gmail. com, and follow her on Facebook, facebook.com/KathyManosPennAuthor/.

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