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Seattle Officials Discourage Use of Potentially Offensive Language...Like the Word 'Citizen


"For 'citizens,' how about 'residents?'"

(Photo: KOMO-TV)

City officials in Seattle are suggesting that government workers avoid using words like "citizen" and "brown bag" because they might be considered offensive, according to an internal memo reported by KOMO-TV.

"Luckily, we've got options," Elliott Bronstein of the Office for Civil Rights reportedly wrote in the memo. "For 'citizens,' how about 'residents?'"

(Photo: KOMO-TV)

As for "brown bag" lunches, Bronstein said "it used to be a way people could judge skin color."

Speaking on KIRO Radio, he explained: "For a lot of, particularly African-American community members, the phrase brown bag does bring up associations with the past when a brown bag was actually used, I understand, to determine if people's skin color was light enough to allow admission to an event, or to come into a party that was being held in a private home."

He rejected the notion that some are trying to "sanitize" the language, saying language is "constantly" changing and the way we speak today is different than we would've 100 years ago.

In the case of brown bags, the city suggests using words like "lunch-and-learn" or "sack lunch" instead.

Glenn Beck, who grew up in the state, weighed in on the story on his radio program Friday.

"You know what that is?  That is a city that apparently is paying too much in income tax, because they have paid people to sit around and come up with ways to be offended," he declared. "Idle hands are the devil's playground..."

The memo follows a move by Washington state in April to retroactively revise its laws back to 1854 to make the phrasing more "gender neutral."

“Words matter,” Liz Watson, a National Women’s Law Center senior adviser, told Reuters at the time. “This is important in changing hearts and minds.”

For more on the recommendations, and an amusing clip considering what else the city might try to change, watch more from KOMO-TV:

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