In the latest edition of a U.S. State Department publication, State Magazine, senior officials warn employees to “choose your words thoughtfully” because you may offend someone using common colloquial phrases such as rule of thumb.
According to Chief Diversity Officer John Robinson, rule of thumb could be offensive to left-wing feminists because the term originates from a legal ruling stating that the “width of a husband’s thumb was the legal size of a switch or rod allowed to beat his wife.”
I had no idea that are legal strict constructionists, plain meaning advocates in the Obama Administration? Well, not so fast. So I checked out this legal gem and, guess what, it appears to be just an old wives’ tale. There is no such case in Anglo American law, that I could find, condoning the rule of thumb for the beating of women. The origin of the term is generally unknown. Surprise.
Vice President Joe Biden recently told a group of Virginians that Republicans want to unchain Wall Street but will “put y’all back in chains“. Rather than showering State Department employees with political correctness, Mr. Robinson should pen a note to Vice President Biden. While the Vice President may not have meant to make a statement laden with slavery undertones, it is an inappropriate thing to say, in of all places, the capital state of the Confederacy.
By the way, the more likely origin for the rule of thumb has to do with the fact that the average hitchhiking finger measures about an inch in length. Do people still hitch rides these days? Anyhow thumbs have nothing to do with beating your wife. Nor does the humble appendage have anything to do with Old English legal rules. Even Canadians legal scholars say so.
The State Department’s Political Correctness Division also took issue with several other colloquialisms. Here is a link to the State Department article and, just in case the State Department decides to remove it, a Fox News story on it as well. These are your tax dollars being used for what they call work. As Clint Eastwood told the nation earlier this week, we own this country, not them. Time for a change.