UU Trivia Question of the Week: Banned UUA Board Terminology

We usually think of Unitarian-Universalism as synonymous with freedom of conscience and expression.  However, there is a notable exception.  No less than the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations banned the use of a term from its meetings, and even went so far as to levy monetary fines against any members who used it.

This week’s UU trivia question is: what is the term that they banned?



Filed under Unitarian-Universalism

36 responses to “UU Trivia Question of the Week: Banned UUA Board Terminology

  1. I can understand banning certain words. I’m surprized there’s not the self disicpline to avoid resorting to fines though.

  2. PS I haven’t a clue what’s the banned word. I could’t guess.

  3. How recent a bit of history are you thinking of?

  4. Bart

    The “levy of monetary fines” makes this sound more like a joke-bet than a serious banning of a term. I’m interested in the story behind this though.

  5. Transient and Permanent

    All UU trivia questions of the week relate to merger/post-merger developments, not Unitarian or Universalist history proper. So that’s always the time frame under discussion. As for this week’s question, the term in question had already come under fire before John Buehrens’s presidency, so it isn’t THAT recent.

  6. Transient and Permanent

    Believe it or not, Bart, this really happened, and it wasn’t a joke to some of the folks involved (especially those who had to pay up and those who’d pushed for the policy!).

    • Under what Article and Paragraph of the Bylaws of the UUA does the Board of Trustees have the authority to fine anyone?

      And under what law would the Board of Trustees have the right to collect on such fines if payment were refused?

      • Transient and Permanent

        This was a mutually agreed upon policy that the Board members voluntarily undertook in order to discipline themselves, not some sort of legislation. It was not imposed by fiat nor forced on any non-Trustee.

  7. S.

    I’m stumped because I was going to guess something related to policy governance.

  8. I am going to take a wild and totally uneducated guess. Given our troubled history around race, our guilt about it, and our obsession to find speech that won’t offend and given the time frame, I am going to guess “Negro.” The question about whether to use the words “Black,” “African-American” or the now favored “Person of Color” would have followed.

    I am now going to sit back and be prepared to be slapped silly by someone I’ve outraged. But that’s what two cheeks are for.

  9. Transient and Permanent

    Patrick, you’re not correct, but that is a very good guess. While there’s never been a fine for using any of the terms you mentioned, it certainly is within the realm of believability that the UUA Board might have instituted one. So, good try.

  10. Gal? Like in Guys and Gals?

  11. Just a guess: “post-Christian”?

  12. Transient and Permanent

    Nope, neither of those, though they too are good guesses. There was also a comment from a frequent spammer asking if the term was “God.” That’s not correct but I do appreciate the snark.

  13. Was this in the past 5 years? I seem to recall something recently….

  14. On a more serious note … “sexual preference”?

  15. Ms. M.

    Unitarian, headquarters or “25”?

  16. Are we ever going to find out the word?

    • Transient and Permanent

      Yes, not to worry. Usually trivia questions are posted on Mondays, and answers are posted on Fridays, especially if no one guesses correctly in the meantime.

  17. I believe I know the word, but the way I found out seems a bit like cheating, so I’ll keep it to myself.

    • Transient and Permanent

      Steve is right–in fact, research at any point is welcome. So if you’ve figured it out, by any method, then go ahead and guess!

  18. i think it’s been established that when enough time goes by – and we’re on the last full day, “research” is perfectly acceptable.

  19. Okay, but I read it somewhere else (and have forgotten where, so sorry for the lack of attribution):


  20. Pingback: Banned UUA Board Term: The Answer to This Week’s UU Trivia Question « Transient and Permanent

    • Ms. M.

      Do I get a nice prize for the correct guess?

      • Transient and Permanent

        Ms. M, were you trying to guess “Unitarian?” I didn’t realize that. I thought you were were trying to write “Unitarian headquarters or 25,” and that the comma had been a typo (since a guess of three separate items should have been written “Unitarian, headquarters, or 25,” and you didn’t include that second comma). I apologize if I overlooked a correct answer.

        Unfortunately, the only prizes in the trivia contest are bragging rights. But by all means, brag away!

        • You are engaging in errant pedantry here, I fear. While once upon a time the second comma was required, it hasn’t been a requirement of standard American English for a very long time.

  21. Transient and Permanent

    Really? I finished high school in the 1990s, and was taught that the second comma was standard. And the editors of my various books continue to insist on it. That’s why I naturally thought Ms. M had committed a typo, something the internet truly abounds in (including among my own writings). Perhaps there is a larger range of opinion on what is standard than I realized.

    I suppose I could point out that I am in Canada, not America, but that would indeed be pedantic. . .

    • Actually, noting any Canada – USA difference is not at all pedantic, only informative.

      I was speaking about USA standards which already dispensed with a second-comma requirement at least by the mid-1970s when I was in high school and had not reinstated it when I got an MA in English in 1992. The USA style handbooks I have consulted since then do not require it.

      I will take your word on Canadian standard English requirements.

  22. S.

    It is fairly standard in academic writing to include the final comma, but in more casual contexts, not so much.

    • Transient and Permanent

      Quite interesting. I seem to be revealing where the vast amount of my reading material comes from. Looks like I learned something today.

    • The serial or “Oxford” comma is losing ground. The AP Style used by most newspapers has dispensed with it, although lots of publishers (like “UU World”) continue to use it. The pop band Vampire Weekend even named a song about indifference after a Columbia University organization called “Students for the Preservation of the Oxford Comma.” The song asks, “Who gives a f— about an Oxford comma?” The non-indifferent, apparently.

      • Transient and Permanent

        They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our Oxford commas!

        Apologies to William Wallace. . .

  23. Ms. M.

    I’m taking my bragging rights and indeed fully intended a list of three guesses, give or take punctuation rules and interpretations thereof!!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s