Publishers Announce New Line Of 100% Blank High School Textbooks

Martha Throebeck on Friday, February 28, 2003

from the this-joke-could-be-offensive-and-has-been-censored dept.

"Our book is the least offensive book in the history of the printing press," boasts one publisher.

NEW YORK CITY -- Realizing that virtually every word in the English language can potentially be viewed as offensive by one minority group or another, many textbook publishers have decided to print 100% blank high school and college textbooks.

"This is the only way we can avoid being accused of racism or political incorrectness," said a spokesman, er... spokesperson for Huffton Wiffton Publishing Co. "We have produced the ultimate example of equality, parity, fairness, and social justice."

Earlier today, the presses started rolling on Huffton Wiffton's "Advanced Calculus" tome, which contains 523 blank pages that are guaranteed not to offend even the most sensitive reader.

Next week the company will distribute sample copies of "Microbiology For Living", "Home Economics For Both Genders", and "The Multiculturalism Of Shakespeare's Plays: A Process Approach". All of the these textbooks contain zero words except for their title, the note "Printed on recycled paper" on the back, and a cover featuring unobjectionable abstract art.

"Our new line of textbooks are completely lawsuit-proof," said a company executive. "You can't find fault with any of our chapters because we don't have any."

Well, not exactly. Two pressure groups have emerged from the woodwork to criticize the new textbooks. "Why did they waste 523 pages to produce these blank texbooks?" ranted one environmental group spokesperson. "They could have produced a 100% blank book while only using one or two pages of dead trees. I don't care whether the paper is recycled; it still requires electricity to produce it and gas-guzzling trucks to move it."

Meanwhile, the Coalition Of Parents Paranoid About The Latest Scare Of The Week expressed fear about the current so-called health crisis: backpacks that are too heavy. "Why should students shoulder 500-page textbooks that are empty? A 5-ounce book will cause far less back problems than a 5-pound doorstop while providing the exact same level of educational material (none)."

Last year, publishing company Radison Vellsley tried to produce a "100 percent perfectly inoffensive book that people of all colors, creeds, and lifestyles can fully embrace". They failed, however, because even the humblest of words caused problems.

"We got creamed because the offensive word 'is' appeared in the textbook nearly 5,000 times. That's bad," explained one anonymous company employee.

What's wrong with 'is'? Well, a representative of the Association For Language and Historical Revisionism explained the problem: "When people think of 'is', they think of Bill Clinton arguing over the definition of 'is'. This word conjures images of 'sex' and 'cigars' along with the sexist way that the President treated women. Feminists are deeply offended by this word and it must be eliminated from everyday speech immediately before it can cause more emotional distress."

Ms. Bigg Y. Nurr, a Political Correctness Theorist at a public university that recently changed its mascot from the 'Indians' to the 'Egaltarians', shared several words that had to be eliminated from textbooks last year:

  • "Eliminated": This word conjures images of 'rejection' and 'inferiority', two concepts that children must be protected from.

  • "Lumberjack": Cutting trees hurts the environment. Indeed, any word associated with environmental harm is unwelcome.

  • "Terrorist": For awhile, the accepted term was "freedom fighter" or "political lobbyist periodically causing collateral damage", but now even those phrases have become welcome-impaired.

  • "Freedom": Many people around the world do not enjoy the same privileges as Americans; we must not rub this in their faces by constantly boasting about our "freedom."

  • "Gun", "Knife", "Scissors": Why does a modern civilization still produce and carry weapons? Hopefully, we can make the world a better place by removing all references to dangerous (or not-so-dangerous) weapons from any material that innocent children might read.

  • "Shanty", "Trailer", "Hovel", "Hut": While these terms could be sanitized with the alternative phrase, "diminutive poverty-enhanced dwelling", most political correctness theorists agree that references to poverty have no place in any kind of speech. "Words that characterize one group as more wealthy than another are unacceptable," Ms. Nurr explained.

  • "Craftsmanship", "Emancipated", "Manual", "Human": Any word containing "man" is clearly sexist. While some have suggested translating these words to something like "craftspersonship", "epersoncipated", "personual", and "huperson", all of these alternatives contain "son", another word fragment that refers to men and is therefore gender-biased.

  • "Slave", "Niggardly", "Spade": You've got to be kidding, right?

Libby Rull, a textbook author employed by Quentis Stall, argued that most Political Correctness Theorists simply don't go far enough. "For one thing, the phrase 'politically correct' is no longer politically correct," he said. "It implies that some social groups are inferior to others because they don't possess the same level of correctness. That's unacceptable."

He also pointed out that printing blank textbooks only solves part of the sensitivity problem. "Textbooks -- blank or not -- are still expensive to produce... As a result, society's most vulnerable members -- the children of wealth-impaired parents -- cannot afford them. In order to clear up the textbook divide, the government needs to give out free textbooks to all strata of society regardless of privilege or socioeconomic status."

A spokesperson... er, spokesperindividual for the Al Quaida "freedom fighting group" was unavailable for comment at press time.