Published December 27, 2021
I once knew a magazine journalist who was addicted to metaphors. He was, so to speak, an alcoholic of metaphors. If he took one sip from the demon rum of analogy, he would be in the gutter by the end of the paragraph. His journalism suffered from what might be called cirrhosis of the prose.
My friend would sit down at his typewriter—this was a long time ago—and set out to tell a seemingly straightforward news story. But in the first or second sentence, his mind would be seized by an image (jaunty, visual, arresting), and pretty soon the seductive analogy would take over the story altogether, hijacking the news report that it was intended merely to embellish.
I thought of him again when I learned that the University of California Irvine has issued an Inclusive Language Guide. In addition to the usual banalities (e.g., “avoid ableist language,” say “folks, team, y’all” instead of “guys” or “gals,” and advance “social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion” with every particle of speech, be it only a “he” or a “she” or a “zhir”), the guide offers this advice: “Avoid metaphors, which can introduce unneeded baggage.” Needless to say, “baggage” is not meant literally.
Mr. Morrow is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His latest book is “God and Mammon: Chronicles of American Money.”