This is a follow-up report over the issue of the word “American’ being problematic.

Susan Kruth reports at the FIRE blog.

In Attempt to Distance UNH from Bias-Free Language Guide, UNH President Ignores Ludicrous ‘Red Light’ Policy

This week, a “Bias-Free Language Guide” posted on the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH’s) website made its way around the Internet and was ruthlessly mocked by the masses before UNH decided to remove it. Although the document explicitly was not intended to be a list of words punishable by the university, online commenters suggested that the list of “problematic” words was overly broad. The Guide discouraged community members from using the words “American,” “homosexual,” “overweight,” “rich,” and dozens of others.

In response, UNH President Mark Huddleston posted a statement on the UNH website Wednesday afternoon affirming the university’s commitment to freedom of expression. Huddleston wrote that he is “troubled” by the Guide, and stated that he wanted “to make it absolutely clear that the views expressed in this guide are NOT the policy of the University of New Hampshire.” He continued, “The only UNH policy on speech is that it is free and unfettered on our campuses.”

Huddleston’s clarification that the Guide wasn’t meant to be a speech code is nice to see—after all, any restriction on the kind of language covered in the Guide would be flatly unconstitutional at a public university like UNH. But UNH’s written policies tell a different story. Anyone browsing FIRE’s Spotlight database can see that Huddleston’s characterization of UNH policy is flatly incorrect. Huddleston apparently overlooked UNH’s red light policy and five yellow light policies, as detailed on FIRE’s website. Red light policies clearly and substantially restrict protected expression, while yellow light policies are vague and can too easily be used to punish or censor protected expression.