The Fredericksburg News Desk reported last week that the University of Mary Washington’s student newspaper, an institution at that Virginia campus since 1922, is in the process of changing its name from The Bullet to The Blue & Gray Press. Why? Because the old name “propagated violence” and did not honor the school’s history “in a sensitive manner.”
The Bullet began as a bulletin for campus events at the university, located in Fredericksburg, and gradually morphed into an award-winning platform for student journalism. A name change for the paper was considered as far back as 1971, when Vietnam War opponents resented the “overly militaristic” implications of the paper’s name. The paper name survived that threat, but those were less politically correct times than today.
The press release last week stated that the name change to The Blue & Gray Press “calls forth UMW’s colors, giving a direct reference back to the school and students the university paper should represent.” Had this been the only reason, the change probably would have seemed reasonable enough, although some alumni were upset 0ver the end of the longstanding tradition.
But the release also noted that “The editorial board felt that the paper’s name, which alludes to ammunition for an artillery weapon, propagated violence and did not honor our school’s history in a sensitive manner.”
Huh? Sensitive to whom? The release didn’t specify, but anytime the word “sensitivity” rears its ugly head on campus, you can be sure that politically correct panic is in effect. Apparently the board is very concerned about how potentially upsetting the word “bullet” is to some. The release didn’t specify how the word dishonored the school’s history (it doesn’t seem inappropriate considering that two Civil War battles were fought in Fredericksburg); nor did it explain how the paper’s name actually “propagates violence.” Have students who were exposed to the paper’s name snapped and committed acts of violence afterward?
These days, with anti-gun paranoia at DEFCON 1, having a school paper with The Bullet right there on the masthead must seem terrifyingly threatening. There is no word at this point on whether the school will be considering Orwellian neologisms for other unsettling words and phrases such as “bulletin,” “bullet point,” and “faster than a speeding bullet.” No doubt the student body will be wrestling with how to handle the phrase “trigger warning” too, which alerts hypersensitive students to potentially upsetting ideas and words (because heaven forbid that adults at an institution of higher learning should be presented with concepts that they aren’t comfortable with). Perhaps the phrase “trigger warning” itself now will have to be preceded by some kind of trigger warning.
The paper’s editor-in-chief, Alison Thoet, steered the issue away from political correctness and said the staff wanted to change the name to “really be reflective of the student body,” whatever that means. She said that in upcoming issues she hopes to focus on the stories of everyday students and on investigative journalism. I humbly recommend that their first investigative piece should be on how guns work, since they apparently believe the word “bullet” refers to “ammunition for an artillery weapon.” Perhaps if university students and staff were more educated about firearms, they wouldn’t be so irrationally disturbed by gun-related words.
In the wake of some criticism of the decision to revamp the name, the new Blue & Gray Press attempted to clarify the controversial action in an open letter last Friday. They felt that “the announcement has been interpreted in some media circles in a manner that misrepresents our decision and intention”:
The Bullet, a name related to the word “bulletin” and the phrase “news as fast as a bullet,” had become dated and no longer represented adequately the student body nor the university. Blue and Gray symbolize both the community’s history and our school’s spirit. By choosing The Blue & Gray Press as our name we are connecting the past with the present to honor both our beautiful city’s history and our student body’s pride in an identifiable and meaningful way.
That explanation didn’t pacify the commenters underneath the posting; as of this writing, they were uniformly critical of the change of a name that had stood nearly one hundred years.
This is a seemingly minor incident of political correctness, but it’s another in a growing number of instances of anti-gun hysteria sweeping the country – particularly in schools, where all common sense seems to have fled adult authorities. A 7-year-old boy in Western Pennsylvania, who accidently brought a toy gun to school in his backpack, turned himself in after he discovered it. It was a toy gun, and he turned himself in, but still he was suspended from school and faced a disciplinary hearing.
Fanning the flames of such irrationality, Huffington Post editor Mark Gongloff mapped scary data from gun-control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety about 74 school shootings that have taken place since the Sandy Hook massacre – misleading data that a University of Sunderland teacher and author deconstructed to conclude that “schools are actually extremely safe.”
In another recent example, a 16-year-old boy was suspended from school in South Carolina over a creative writing assignment in which he made a joking reference to shooting a neighbor’s pet dinosaur. The teacher actually called the police – without informing the boy’s parents first. They searched his book bag and locker for a gun, but didn’t find one (or the body of the dinosaur, for that matter). When the boy became irate over this insanity, he was handcuffed and arrested.
“Paranoia strikes deep,” the Buffalo Springfield sang back in the ‘60s. “Step out of line, the man come and take you away.” Indeed.
(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 9/1/14)