Liberal Control Freaks Moves to Ban Words from the Vocabulary in Seattle
In a move that seems to come straight out of the pages of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, the city of Seattle went forward with a surprisingly idiotic policy to “ban” two words from the vocabulary for “political correctness” concerns. The terms in question are “citizen” and “brown bag.” KOMO-TV reports that the city’s Office of Civil Rights instructed city workers in a recent internal memo to avoid using the words because some may find them offensive. So, from now on, the terms “citizen” and “brown bag” may no longer be used in official documents and discussions… Elliott Bronstein,the man at the Seattle’s Office for Civil Rights who wrote the memo that was obtained by the radio station, had this to say:
Luckily, we’ve got options. For ‘citizens,’ how about ‘residents? 
In an interview with Seattle’s KIRO Radio, Bronstein said the term “brown bag” has been used historically as a way to judge skin color. Bronstein said:
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. 
Incidentally, a brown bag can also be used to hold food that will be eaten later in the day or it can contain the groceries you just bought from the store. But common sense be damned, this is no longer to be mentioned by employees of Seattle city government.
In the case of the second word to be expelled” from the vocabulary, Bronstein had to clue Dori Monson into why “citizen” should be avoided.
A lot of people who live in Seattle aren’t citizens, but they are residents, […] 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. [2a]
What is the Brown Paper Bag Test?
Fortunately, there was at least on man brave enough to publicly point out the total idiocy of this proposition. Dori Monson from Kiro Radio, who considers himself a pretty historically and culturally aware person, said he’s never heard of this practice or association and wonders how many others have. Ironically, trying to correct a so-called “wrong” the politically correct crowd of Seattle may just have informed most people about a the existence “racist practice” that nobody else knew about. In final analysis, they end up being the one who have “racialized” an area of the discourse where no problems of this nature have never been reported in the past.
The chairman of Harvard’s Afro-American studies department, said: ‘Some of the brothers who came from New Orleans held a “bag party”. As a classmate explained it to me, a bag party was a New Orleans custom wherein a brown paper bag was stuck on the door. Anyone darker than the bag was denied entrance.’ [2b]
The practice was described in Future of the Race by Henry Louis Gates Jr., who says he experienced the brown paper bag test when he started at Yale in the 1960s, according to the St Petersburg Times. The phrase “brown paper bag test” has traditionally been used by African Americans throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century with reference to a ritual once practiced by certain African-American sororities and fraternities who would not let anyone into the group whose skin tone was darker than a paper bag. Also known as a paper bag party, these lighter-skinned social circles reflected an idea of exclusion and exclusiveness. The notion of the “paper bag” has carried a complex and obscure meaning in black communities for many decades. The reason for the usage of the “paper bag” is because the color of the paper bag is considered to be the “center” marker of blackness that distinguishes “light skin” from “dark skin” on a continuum stretching infinitely from black to white. Also, the brown paper bag is believed to act as a benchmark for certain levels of acceptance and inclusion. Spike Lee’s film School Daze satirized this practice at historically black colleges and universities. Along with the “paper bag test,” guidelines for acceptance among the lighter ranks included the “comb test” and “pencil test,” which tested the coarseness of one’s hair, and the “flashlight test,” which tested a person’s profile to make sure their features measured up or were close enough to those of the Caucasian race.
KIRO Radio host Dori Monson in Seattlewas baffled, he just couldn’t figure out why these words were being targeted. So he went on and he asked the man that drafted the memo to the city’s PIO’s for an explanation. Monson agrees that it is possible that there have been some complaints about the phrasing of certain official communications or ducuments in the past, but he thinks they likely came from people who are too easily offended, and questions the city trying to accommodate all the concerns of a ridiculously small percentage of people. He sees this whole proposition as a waste of time and ressources and as an undesirable deviation from common sense. He also deplores his region’s tendencies to mess with language:
I just think that this obsession with sanitizing our language for the easily offended is a silly pursuit. This comes closely on the heels of a law that was just implemented, I believe this last weekend, where we’re changing manhole covers to person-hole covers and we can’t call a fireman a fireman anymore. There just seems to be this steady trend in our region for doing this to language. 
But Bronstein pointed out language is always changing and it’s part of the city’s job to keep up with the realities of a very diverse city.
“We change our language constantly. The very words and phrases you’re using to talk to me now is not the way either of us would have spoken when we were in our 20’s back in the 1970’s. I would say in a community as large as ours in Seattle, we’re talking about a community of African American, white, Latino, and Asian people who all have a stake in using language that doesn’t bug other people.” 
Even after the explanation, Monson thinks that for the majority of other people – a brown bag remained just a brown bag.  Being politically correct is not just confined to Seattle. State lawmakers also voted earlier this year to change terms including ‘freshman’ and ‘penmanship’ to avoid gender discrimination. ‘Words matter. This is important in changing hearts and minds,’ Liz Watson, a National Women’s Law Center senior adviser, said.