Is the word “brainstorming” offensive as being disrespectful to people with epilespy? At least in Australia? That was the subject of a recent post based upon something told to us by a “normally trustworthy source” (who wishes to remain anonymous because, she said, this implies that she is “normal” and “trustworthy” — adjectives she apparently disdains).
Nontheless, we took her seriously even though we had never heard this, and asked our readers if “brainstorming” had become taboo. Some joked, others mocked the PC implications of this, others took a serious but bemused approach, and others … well, read on!
Bonnie Low-Kramen, a NYC motivational speaker and personal instuctor, checked with an Aussie friend:
“Because I happen to love brainstorming in every country, I asked my Aussie pal whose response was that it’s not true. The word is not offensive or politically incorrect in Australia. 2 or more heads are always better than one!”
Dennis Spirgen, a Cleveland/Akron insurance counsel:
“It’s offensive to epileptics to say “brainstorm,” and in your blog, you offend amputees by asking if the story is “pulling our leg.” You must be tone deaf. Wait, now I have offended the hearing impaired. How could I have been so blind? oh, jeez . . . ”
Peter Stanway, an HR expert from the UK: “It is on a par with not being able to ask for white coffee.”
Simon Overland, “head of corporate engagement” in Chelmsford, UK:
“I sincerely hope that whoever came up with this is on a wind up [apparently this means “pulling our leg”]. To actually think that there would be malice or that someone was being derogatory is complete nonsense.”
Michelle MorganCoole, place and profession unknown:
“If it is true, it’s ridiculous. My daughter has epilepsy (among other conditions) and … yeah. No. Put this one up there with the people holes (man holes).”
Christopher Reid, an insurance claims/adjustment expert in Houston:
“I can easily see the term “thought showers” becoming the basis for claims of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.”
Catherine Mossop, president of Sage Mentors in Toronto:
“I think “thought shower” is terribly offensive to all the fabulous women who suffer terribly from menopause….”
Cynthia Canfield, an HR expert from Huntsville, Alabama, preferred to invoke the venerable “reasonable person” standard”: “There will always be someone who finds something offensive, here is an opportunity to use the “reasonable person” premise. Would a reasonable person think this is an offensive term? I think some restraint is called for in this case. ”
BUT WAIT!! Lest you think that our “reliable source” was just indulging a pipe dream…
Nick Brown, an IT professional from Hampshire, UK tells us:
“I’m afraid it is no wind-up at all Simon – I was reprimanded by colleagues in a past (UK) employment for using “brainstorming”, when I should have used “Thought Showers” …. (good grief!). As it happens, my epileptic son became extremely angry over the patronising attitude of the ‘do-gooders!……”
Annabel Kaye, the group manager of Workplace bullying, harassment discrimination UK said: “I have been told off for using it too! I was told it discriminates against or denigrates the mentally impaired.”
Simon Overland, see above, apparently having done some research into the issue:
“Directly from an article in the Daily Mail (typically): “Brainstorming, first coined in the 1890s, was used by psychiatrists to refer to severe nervous attacks. And although since the 1940s it has meant a meeting to produce new ideas, councillors are concerned it may prove offensive to epileptics.
The National Society for Epilepsy said this was unlikely. It surveyed members three years ago to ask whether they found the phrase offensive.
Spokesman Amanda Cleaver said: ‘The answer was a resounding No. It certainly wasn’t deemed offensive at all. People thought it was a great word to describe the coming together and discussion of ideas.’
So there you go, even the NSE did not find it offensive. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1027985/Council-bans-brainstorming-replaces-term-thought-showers–fear-offending-epileptics.html#ixzz2vZRXRna2”
Peter Stanway, see above: “So another urban muyth exposed.”