Quick, when I say “Brown Bag”, what’s the first offensive thing you can think of? The best I could come up with is a pejorative term for poor or homeless people drinking booze out of brown bags on the corner. How about the word “Citizen”? That one’s harder; citizen isn’t just a non-offensive word, it’s a lazy all-encompassing word like “stuff”, and “scientists”! Yet, somehow, leadership (“leadership” is another example) in Seattle have decided to ban the use of words “Brown Bag”, and “Citizen” in public addresses as they are now, apparently, offensive.
In a Radio Interview, Elliot Bronstein, the leader of the new proposition and member of Seattle’s Office for Civil Rights, clarified just how exactly the words brown bag and citizen were offensive.
Bronstein on Brown Bag: "For a lot of particularly African-American community members, the phrase brown bag does bring up associations with the past when a brown bag was actually used, I understand, to determine if people's skin color was light enough to allow admission to an event or to come into a party that was being held in a private home."
Bronstein on Citizen: "They are legal residents of the United States and they are residents of Seattle. They pay taxes and if we use a term like citizens in common use, then it doesn't include a lot of folks,”
Bronstein did not clarify on what she meant by “they”: presumably illegal immigrants. Or not, I still don’t really know what she is talking about.
This word ban is similar to a New York ban in 2012 that similarly banned potentially offensive words such as “dinosaur”, “Birthday”, and “Halloween” from public exams in fear that the words might upset weirdoes.
Here’s what really happened here: Seattle has an Office for Civil Rights. Everyone who works at that office gets paid to fight oppression in Seattle. The problem is that there just aren’t too many violations of civil rights going on up in Washington. These employees still work 40 hours a week, and feel they need to do something to justify their pay. That’s how decisions like this one come down. When there’s no actual oppression going on, the people who get paid to fight oppression got to keep fighting, regardless.