Saturday, October 21, 2006

Melina visits Wesleyan...

I love Wesleyan. It's a little teapot, inside which very small tempests brew. If you are afraid that political correctness is destroying honest dialogue in the country, stories from Wesleyan will chill you to your bones.

According to Zed, they had a fight at Wesleyan last month over whether it was acceptable to call a certain dinner entree "Oriental Chicken."

The name was deemed offensive, and the entree was renamed "Sesame Chicken."

Denizens of Sesame Street have not yet turned out to protest.

(Posted for Melina by her mom Melinama, as blogger was down earlier. Melina is in Connecticut, I am in a Panera's in Spartanburg SC with no electrical outlet and a battery which functions for only a few short minutes ... )

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At 1:24 PM, Blogger Tenured Radical said...

Ok, I don't know why the kids at Wesleyan were all in a tear, but --

If you are a person of Asian descent, the word "Oriental" has nasty overtones, since Oriental was a name chosen by Europeans for very complex groups of people they were colonizing, enslaving and often killing. So it's a little like referring to gumbo as "Mammy soup."

From a linguistic point of view, calling anything "Oriental" or "Asian" or whatever is just dumb, since it doesn't mean anything. "Sesame Chicken," however, is really descriptive. It evokes the main ingredient -- and also lets you know what's in it if you are allergic to sesame seeds. Whereas one might only shudder if "Oriental chicken" were descriptive in a similar way.

Now the question is, why aren't the kids at Wesleyan demanding a better food service that allows people to join a union? Or that isn't trying to disguise bad food with heavy sauces that are probably full of sugar and transfats? Or around why the university has to guarantee the food service provider a certain profit before the provider will agree to contract with the university? Mama, you sound like the kind of person who is interesed in things like this. Ask questions, she who payeth all tuitions.


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