Another year is in the books, and it wasn’t a good one for the cause of common sense. Political correctness, overreaction and alarmism continued their assault on our freedoms, to say nothing of our wallets and our mental health. As we dive into 2016, it’s worth recapping some of the most ridiculous stories of 2015. And, no, we’re not making any of this up.
— The University of New Hampshire’s “Bias-Free Language Guide” instructed students, faculty and staff that the word “American” is “problematic” and that its use should be avoided. “North Americans often use ‘American’ which usually, depending on the contexts, fails to recognize South America,” the guide says, explaining the use of the word “assumes the U.S. is the only country inside these two continents.” The fact that the U.S. is the only country with the word “America” in its name apparently was lost on the guide’s authors.
— A first-grader at Our Lady of Lourdes elementary school in Cincinnati was suspended by the principal for pretending to shoot a pretend arrow in a pretend playground battle. How dare 6-year-olds use their imaginations? The boy’s mom put it best: “I can’t stop him from pretending to be a superhero. … I don’t think it would be healthy to do so.” Amen. Zero tolerance policies are far more dangerous and damaging than any child’s playtime activity.
— New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, a Democrat, subpoenaed Exxon Mobil, demanding that the energy giant hand over financial records, emails and other documents to determine whether the company lied about … climate change. The company funds climate research to examine and counter the claims of weather alarmists (who have their own credibility issues), while simultaneously planning for all the potential costs and regulations politicians might impose as part of their goal to run Exxon Mobil out of business. It’s official: In New York, being a climate change skeptic can land you in court.
— Researchers from Idaho State University and the College of the Canyons published a study in the peer-reviewed journal Critical Social Work based on the experiences of 11 “real” vampires — as opposed to “lifestyle” vampires, who like to pretend they’re monsters — and found that vampires struggle to gain social acceptance and are reluctant to disclose their existence, putting them at elevated risk of ridicule and mental illness. The study is proof that colleges and journals are willing to validate every kind of weirdness in the name of tolerance.
— Educators at East Side Elementary School in Worland, Wyo., thought the best way to train kids how to respond to a potential mass shooting was having a strange man in a hooded sweatshirt and a backpack cross the playground, then having a teacher blow a whistle and tell kids to run. Some children thought the teacher said “gun,” prompting them to huddle against a fence, completely terrified. Where are grown-ups when you need them?
— The University of Ottawa, Canada, decided to cancel its yoga classes because they amounted to “cultural appropriation,” and the fitness and relaxation regimen is directly linked to “cultural genocide.” Somebody needs a really good stretch.
— Teachers and administrators at Columbia Elementary in West Jordan, Utah, grabbed an inhaler from a fourth-grade girl as she was attempting to medicate herself during a coughing fit, because her parents failed to notify the school of the prescription and her hospitalization the previous weekend. The girl was denied the medicine, which made her cough until she vomited. The story subsequently made parents everywhere puke.
— Students at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania demanded the school’s Lynch Memorial Hall be renamed because the word “lynch” is racially insensitive. The building was named for Clyde Lynch, the school’s president from 1932 to 1950.
— California environmentalists wrung their hands all year about the energy consumption of a desalination plant outside San Diego, made necessary in part because said environmentalists have handcuffed the state’s ability to manage the West’s severe drought. Meanwhile, celebrities across Southern California who champion conservation and “going green” have been caught violating watering restrictions to keep their lawns looking lush. Having it both ways is the California way.
— The Old Priory Junior Academy in Plympton, England, banned cartwheels and handstands at the primary school because of safety concerns. Jumping is still allowed — for now.
— The city of Peterborough, Canada, ordered its crossing guards to stop high-fiving students, saying policy banned physical interaction with children. Booooo!
Happy New Year!