Apparently, the unalienable human rights laid out by our forefathers were life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and to never be offended.

In a move that has sparked immediately controversy, the New York Department of Education ruled this week to remove mentions of certain words from standardized tests to "be sensitive to a diverse student body."  Among the words removed from NYC standardized tests are dinosaur, Halloween, dancing, birthdays, poverty, divorce, disease, slavery, and terrorism.  These words have been deemed as possible points of controversy and distraction for students taking the tests.

  • Dinosaurs - This might offend/distract religious students who do not believe in evolution.
  • Halloween - This might offend/distract students because Halloween suggests Paganism.
  • Dancing - This might offend/distract students who are of religious faiths that do not allow dancing.
  • Birthdays - This might offend/distract religious students, such as Jehovah Witnesses, who do not celebrate birthdays.
  • Poverty - As this word describes a degree of wealth, this might offend/distract students who do not come from wealthy families.
  • Divorce - This might offend/distract students who are part of a family currently going through, or having gone through, a divorce.
  • Disease - This might offend/distract students who have family or friends who are currently sick.
  • Terrorism - This word has been deemed to be "too scary".

A spokesperson from the Department of Education told Fox News that the removal of these words, almost fifty in total, is not censorship,

“This is standard language that has been used by test publishers for many years and allows our students to complete practice exams without distraction,”

The list of "Offensive " words/references include...

  1. Abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological)
  2. Alcohol (beer and liquor), tobacco, or drugs
  3. Birthday celebrations (and birthdays)
  4. Bodily functions
  5. Cancer (and other diseases)
  6. Catastrophes/disasters (tsunamis and hurricanes)
  7. Celebrities
  8. Children dealing with serious issues
  9. Cigarettes (and other smoking paraphernalia)
  10. Computers in the home (acceptable in a school or library setting)
  11. Crime
  12. Death and disease
  13. Divorce
  14. Evolution
  15. Expensive gifts, vacations, and prizes
  16. Gambling involving money
  17. Halloween
  18. Homelessness
  19. Homes with swimming pools
  20. Hunting
  21. Junk food
  22. In-depth discussions of sports that require prior knowledge
  23. Loss of employment
  24. Nuclear weapons
  25. Occult topics (i.e. fortune-telling)
  26. Parapsychology
  27. Politics
  28. Pornography
  29. Poverty
  30. Rap Music
  31. Religion
  32. Religious holidays and festivals (including but not limited to Christmas, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan)
  33. Rock-and-Roll music
  34. Running away
  35. Sex
  36. Slavery
  37. Terrorism
  38. Television and video games (excessive use)
  39. Traumatic material (including material that may be particularly upsetting such as animal shelters)
  40. Vermin (rats and roaches)
  41. Violence
  42. War and bloodshed
  43. Weapons (guns, knives, etc.)
  44. Witchcraft, sorcery, etc.

Are these words really that risky to have in standardized tests?  I cannot understand how a student can really mess up on a standardized test and later say, "It wasn't my fault!  My family doesn't have a lot of money and the questions about poverty upset me!"  Also, this is in New York City.  Compare the New York mentality to the mentality here in Texoma, which is more conservative.  Is this something that could/should happen here?