Grammar is bad and racist, right?

That’s the accusation by some students at UCLA who have accused a professor of creating a racially hostile environment through aggressive grammar corrections.

Seriously, it’s called “micro-aggression,” as David Thompson reports:

More crushing injustice on campus, this time at the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies:

In a letter sent to colleagues in the department after the sit-in, [Professor] Rust said students in the demonstration described grammar and spelling corrections he made on their dissertation proposals as a form of “micro-aggression.” “I have attempted to be rather thorough on the papers and am particularly concerned that they do a good job with their bibliographies and citations, and these students apparently don’t feel that is appropriate,” Rust said in the letter.

You see, by highlighting spelling and punctuation errors, the professor is contributing to an “unsafe climate for students of colour.” For those of you interested in the policing of tiny tragedies, “micro-aggressions” are defined by one official report as,

Subtle verbal and nonverbal insults directed toward non-whites, often done automatically and unconsciously. They are layered insults based on one’s race, gender, class, sexuality, language, immigration status, phenotype, accent, or surname.


It is not clear whether any workable definition of discriminatory conduct is capable of capturing every such microaggression.

The indefinite and unilateral nature of the term does raise one or two problems. As Ricochet’s Tim Groseclose notes,

I’m pretty sure that by writing this blog post I have engaged in a microaggression.

And by drawing further attention to this story and its comedic possibilities, it’s very likely that your mild-mannered host is also oppressing somebody, somewhere, in ways that aren’t quite clear. And don’t you get all high and mighty either. By reading this you’re almost certainly complicit too. I denounce your wickedness. Now report to the correction booth. Three hours, maximum setting.