Conservative websites on Wednesday spent time mocking a "bias-free language guide" at the University of New Hampshire, which isn't new, but that somehow captured attention this week. The guide features suggestions on how to avoid words or phrases that might offend. Many recommendations will strike people as common sense. For example, the guide recommends using "black" or "African-American" instead of "negro" or "negroid." But some of the suggestions are being attacked as excessively politically correct -- the guide suggests using "U.S. citizen" or "resident of the U.S." instead of "American" because "North Americans often use 'American,' which usually, depending on the context, fails to recognize South America."
As discussion of the document spread, the university's president issued a statement noting that UNH never forced anyone to follow these guidelines, which were strictly recommendations for those seeking to avoid causing offense. "While individuals on our campus have every right to express themselves, I want to make it absolutely clear that the views expressed in this guide are not the policy of the University of New Hampshire," said President Mark Huddleston. "I am troubled by many things in the language guide, especially the suggestion that the use of the term ‘American’ is misplaced or offensive. The only UNH policy on speech is that it is free and unfettered on our campuses. It is ironic that what was probably a well-meaning effort to be ‘sensitive’ proves offensive to many people, myself included."
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