The Life Deprived: Yale Bans The Dead
Citing inclusiveness, civility, and kindness, Yale University has banned the terms “dead”, “deceased”, and “passed away” when referring to, well, people who have died. From now on, while on campus anyway, such unfortunate folks are to be called “the life deprived”.
Yale has long been at the forefront of the speech code movement, which has swept U.S. colleges since the 1980s. A speech code is any rule or regulation that limits, restricts, or bans speech beyond the strict legal limitations found in society as a whole. Today, such codes are nearly universal on American campuses.
Elite, private universities like Yale have some of broadest speech codes in existence due to the fact that they are not state supported.
In 2009, Yale banned students from making t-shirts with an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote—“I think of all Harvard men as sissies.”—from his 1920 novel This Side of Paradise. The t-shirts were to be worn at the annual Yale/Harvard football game as a joke and part of the age-old rivalry between the two schools. The shirts were blocked after some gay and lesbian students argued that “sissies” amounted to a homophobic slur.
“What purports to be humor by targeting a group through slurs is not acceptable,” said Mary Miller, dean of the Yale undergraduate program.
No word on whether actual copies of the novel itself were piled in the middle of the quad and burned.
The ban on traditional terms to describe people who have gone to the Great Beyond is not sitting well with everyone.
“You know,” said Aaron Baily, a Yale sophomore, “I’m starting to think this political correctness stuff has gone too far.”
Harold Louis, a former Yale faculty member, said the ban “sets a terrible, very weird precedent.”
Others, though, expressed their support.
“Kindness should hold a place on a par with intellectual attainment,” said Rachel Withers, a Yale senior. “We should figure out how to speak in such a way that no one, not one single person, is offended. I believe in free speech as long as no one’s feelings get hurt.”
Kyle McNamara, a Yale freshman, says the ban on the terms “dead”, “deceased,” and “passed away” lets him know he’s not alone in his suffering. “It’s great to see support from an institution, from authorities. The old terms were pretty severe and lacked compassion if you ask me and it’s good to see them stricken from the language. This all really hits home with me personally because my grandma became life deprived when I was, like, eleven or something.”