Look, this recent thing with the USC business school suspending a professor for explaining that 那个 is a common Chinese filler word is completely nuts. Read about it on the fantastic linguistics blog Language Log. The video is absolutely correct on the merits, and is something I noticed with surprised when I overheard a classmate speak to his family on the phone when I was in college (before my own studies in the language).

If these aggressive language-policing events are going to stick around, I might as well acknowledge them, and this one is a big puzzler. Because it's important to tell people this if they'll do business with native Chinese speakers, so they aren't surprised. It's important precisely because it's the type of thing you'd otherwise need an ounce of poise for! But even with the brackets and didactic style, it seems the university administration is maximally cowardly. No lesson is safe, when your boss will throw you under the bus for saying true things.

I'm going back and forth about the tag I used here, but it seems about right tonally. The twitter mobs are really bad at finding actually bad people. No taste, no discernment. I'd be more interested in claims that they're moral judgments are worthwhile if they didn't constantly screw up. But in a world with Uygher concentration camps, I see only mild criticism of it. No mobs. Chinese officials and state run newspapers are never the targets of the most thoughtless, harrassing campaigns, nor are North Korea sympathizers, nor the people saying Pol Pot did nothing wrong. These bullying tactics stink like a mountain of poop on a warm Manhattan night – and that they are targeted essentially randomly should be enough for universities to release statements saying they emphatically don't care.

But I guess we don't have the cultural immune response to reject the importance of the same 60,000 twitter accounts that do this over and over. I think a movie screening of Kindergarten Cop was cancelled because a single person on Twitter complained it glorified bad police work, which I'm not even entirely certain wasn't a joke. The sensitivity here isn't to scale with the scope of the internet, and the universities are depriving people of lessons now.

Chinese is a beautiful language. Please, dear heavens, ignore the truly idiotic complaints.