This is a weird example of censorship. The Graduate School of Social work at Smith College will no longer permit the use of the word “field” to describe an area of study. As you may know (or not), I wrote a book about censorship of language and images called The Language Police. If I have a chance to update it, this one goes in.

What, you may wonder, is objectionable about “field?” Reader, I don’t know. Does it suggest someone who works in a field? Why would that be objectionable? Again, I don’t know.

Masslive reports:

The Smith College graduate School for Social Work announced last week it will no longer use the word “field” due to “negative associations.”

“We recognize that language is powerful and that phrases such as ‘going into the field’ or ‘field work’ may hold negative associations,” administrators said in a message to the school community last week….

Author Tracy Kidder, who recently spoke to MassLive about his new book “Rough Sleepers,”also commented on the use of words, particularly on the controversy over the word “field.”

“I have a young friend who is brilliant from Burundi, who grew up in a civil war. And so when I told him this, I said, ‘What do you make of this?’ He said, ‘Anyone who was troubled by a word like field must live in paradise….’”

In a Facebook comment, Robert Cunningham implied that the changing of the word field would be a problem for many Massachusetts communities.

“Let’s see…. Ashfield, Brimfield, Chesterfield, East Brookfield, Greenfield, Hatfield, Lynnfield, Mansfield, Marshfield, Medfield, Middlefield, North Brookfield, Northfield, Pittsfield, Plainfield, Sheffield, Springfield, Topsfield, Wakefield, West Brookfield, West Springfield, Westfield.”