On the Banning of the Word ‘Field’
by the University of Southern
California’s School of Social Work

See the related news story here.

In Southern California they’ve declared
that field’s a word to studiously ignore.
It seems that at all costs folk should be spared
plantation connotation. Has your jaw

dropped to the ground, yet? Personally, I think
weird impacts loom. The actor, Christian Bale,
will be Chris Textile Crop Cube lest they link
his name to word crimes worth a spell in jail.

And what about boll weevils? Must they change
address and find a different source of food?
And cotton clothes! If banned ’twould be most strange
to wokishly go strolling in the nude.

And Georgia! Alabama! They must go!
Let’s dig ’em up and dump ’em in the sea.
But wait a whatsit-picking minute! No!
Perhaps I’ve dreamed this up, oh, silly me!


Paul A. Freeman is the author of Rumours of Ophir, a crime novel which was taught in Zimbabwean high schools and has been translated into German. In addition to having two novels, a children’s book and an 18,000-word narrative poem (Robin Hood and Friar Tuck: Zombie Killers!) commercially published, Paul is the author of hundreds of published short stories, poems and articles.

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22 Responses

  1. C.B. Anderson

    Given the generous playing field that you have created, it’s surprising how soon you dropped the ball. In a good game nothing is ever forced.

  2. Brian A Yapko

    “Chris Textile Crop Cube” and boll weevils! Inspired lunacy unfortunately inspired by true lunacy. Thank you, Paul, for shining a spotlight on yet more woke insanity. A terrible shame about the legacies of W. C. Fields, Totie Fields, Joseph Cotten (homonym), Henry Fielding, and others. And speaking of Georgia, did you know that the classic Broadway musical “Mame” is on the woke cancellation list because the title song’s lyric dares to include the line “one day the South will rise again?”

    • Paul Freeman

      This story can probably be traced back to one or two folk in a school of the university.

      Even so, it defies belief they have been given a voice.

      Although language evolves, it’s sad that in some cases that evolution is being forced, or worse still, imposed.

  3. Paul Freeman

    I spotted this strange story at two in the morning and have just emailed in the reviewed version.

    Anyhow, you get the gist.

  4. Sally Cook

    Yikes !!

    Wait till Joe Salemi sees this ! Oh, wait — perhaps I should replace the word “till” with the word “untill.” Till is what you do to a field, isn’t it? Which raises the question HOW DO YOU UNTILL A FIELD?; Or do you? Can you, should you, must you? Help! Kip, jump in here. As for me, I’m going back to bed. You need a full breakfast and a strong cup of coffee to deal with this kind of insanity. Questions on the table: what are we paying these people for and how much is too much?

    • Paul Freeman

      I’m sure Joe will be speechless, but not wordless once he interfaces with his keyboard.

      In the final analysis, though, you’ve gotta laugh. It’s just some minion in a university’s bargain basement sounding off.

    • C.B Anderson

      It’s fairly easy to untill a field, Sally. Just run heavy equipment over it repeatedly. In a small garden, footsteps will suffice to destroy tilth.

  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    Actually, I read this story before Paul posted his poem. But my reaction was one not of surprise or outrage, but one of bored indifference. So many utterly absurd proclamations are coming out of the cesspool of academia that one no longer has the energy to get excited about them.

    I agree with Paul — it’s just the product of some stupid little schmuck (or perhaps a committee of Social Work schmucks) posturing and preening in the glow of their own self-proclaimed virtue. And besides — it’s from California, which is now in a state of collective insanity.

    You can’t do “field work.” You can’t say that your “field” is French Literature or Organic Chemistry. You can’t “play the field.” This kind of emotional masturbation is so patently silly that it will eventually collapse of its own inherent imbecility. Unfortunately, until then the schmucks at the University of Southern Cal will be in charge, making up more stupid regulations.

  6. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Inanity is insanity! I will continue to abhor and ignore anything “woke!” As a Texan, I shall continue to use field and cotton-pickin’.

  7. Margaret Coats

    The University of Southern California is an elite private institution where performance of USC teams on sports fields has gained much media attention. Some members of the teams belong to social groups supposed to be potentially offended by reference to agricultural fields. Please sympathize with the university’s dilemma! Linguistic arbiters have yet to deal with the renowned physics and engineering departments concerning electromagnetic and gravitational fields.

    • Paul Freeman

      My vote’s for electromagnetic and gravitational ‘pitches’.

      Thanks for elucidating on the story I read, Margaret.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      In what way is a sports playing field connected to a field where crops are grown and harvested? This kind of insanity being pushed by the USC Social Work department is really a neurotic symptom, very much like being triggered by the phrase “ice cream” simply because you happened to have slipped and broke your leg on ice one winter.

      • Paul Freeman

        Sadly, the weaponising of words (to distract from an issue, to cancel someone or get them to be quiet, or to make others fearful of putting forth a contradictory position, or just for the sake of getting yourself heard and noticed) is becoming ever more prevalent, especially with the prevalence of social media.

        Fortunately, when such instances are puerile and in effect baseless (as in this case), most folk just shake their heads and move on.


        I’m told not to use the word ‘field’;
        it’s gone lost its lexical shield.
        So how much I wonder,
        avoiding said blunder
        do ‘oblongs of crop-sown soil’ yield?

  8. Shaun C. Duncan

    Nicely done, Paul. This kind of nonsense deserves to memorialized in verse for future generations to shake their heads at.

    I must say though, their choice of the word “practicum” to replace “field of study” sounds vaguely ableist. I shall be writing them a stern letter.

    • Paul Freeman

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Shaun.

      That word ‘practicum’ is a doozy. Is the plural ‘practica’, perchance?

  9. BDW

    Ingsoc, and its ideological companion Newspeak, have been here for a long time, but in these days duckspeak is rampant, especially in corporate media and cacademia, as FreeMan has noted in this recent example from USC and Michigan. Caleb Wuri Seed as well recently scribbled a tennos doubleplusspeedwise.

    Field Work
    by Caleb Wuri Seed
    “the syllable…is the king and pin of versification…”
    —Charles Olson, “Projective Verse”

    It is the process of observing and collecting facts
    about environments and cultures, people and their acts.
    It is conducted in the wild, rather than within
    the classroom or the lab’ratory, free from thinking thin.
    Researchers then can gather data streams dynamic’lly,
    that interact with r-e-a-l life, and not inactively.
    It’s so important in agrology, ecology,
    geology, biology and archaeology,
    as well as, well, the list continues in-de-fin-ite-ly,
    when learning of the All, minutely or infinitely…

    Caleb Wuri Seed is a poet of fieldwork. Charles Olson (1910-1970) was a “dogmatic, irritable, passionate” PostModernist American poet, according to M. L. Rosenthal (1917-1996).

    • Paul Freeman

      Most negative and derogatory terms for someone with mental incapacity or a mental illness have been binned over the years for kinder, less disparaging words, yet we have hardly noticed it.

      I find it’s when the issue is forced or continually highlighted that folk, rightly or wrongly, dig in their heels and it becomes a battle-whatsit.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Altering words doesn’t alter reality. Whether I call someone “mentally deficient” or “a stupid moron,” the fact of their incompetence remains the same. A prostitute and a “sex worker” are identical.

        A great deal of liberalism today is based on the fantasy of wish-fulfillment via the changing of language. It’s this sentiment-soaked fantasy that is fueling the explosion of euphemism. That’s why a very robust and unabashed use of blunt language is a major weapon in our arsenal. Let’s make use of it.

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