It is always wrong to try to ban a word. Wrong and stupid. The language gets round any ban with ease.
It scoffs at social engineering. It scoffs at committees. The language sorts itself out by an evolutionary process that is beyond our conscious control. The language wins because the language is us.
The States has tried to ban the n-word by calling it the n-word. In doing so they've made a taboo out of it. So inadvertently they've doubled the n-word's potency, not just when it's used but also when it's avoided. And at the same time they've had no effect at all on the prejudice that the word enshrines.
And therein lies the fundamental fallacy that the word-banners fall for. Language reflects the people who use it. Changing the language doesn't change the people. It merely drives them to different ways of expression.
Consider gay. It once meant cheerful, merry, light of heart. Homosexuals appropriated it in the 1970s with the understandable aim of adopting a kinder sobriquet than queer or fag or any of the other abusive terms applied to them. And they succeeded in adopting the word. But they didn't alter the prejudice.
So gay, once it had become established, acquired all the connotations that queer and fag and so on previously had. Eavesdrop any school playground and you will hear a word that once meant cheerful, merry and light of heart used as a term of abuse.
So it would be wrong and stupid and self-defeating to ban the word super. But oh how tempting it is. Of course the word has legitimate uses. Without it fictional English children from the Enid Blyton School of Improbable Decency would have no way to express their enthusiasm. Oh look, crumpets with lashings of butter. How super.
And super as a prefix meaning above and beyond has a dry scientific practicality. So a superstructure is a minor structure atop a major one, such as the bridge on a ship, and supersonic means travelling beyond the speed at which sound travels. So far so useful. But oh how the word is abused.
Consider superstar. I heard a radio interview the other day with the only person whom either of us has heard of with the Christian name Nigella. The interviewer, a grown and able woman, was all a-twitter, gasping with excitement. Within seconds of the interview starting she had called Ms Lawson to her face a superstar.
Now, every one of us, either knows himself to be a fool or doesn't know himself. To be human is to be as full of flaws as of virtues. There are no superstars, and that includes Ms Lawson. She's a cook. And there are millions of cooks. She just happens to cook on television.
Of course it's not Nigella Lawson's fault if other people call her a superstar. And no one could blame her for going along with it. That way lies wealth. But the danger is that she might start to believe it. And that way lies madness.
Consider supermodels. That models should be famous is absurd enough. The three skills required of a model are to walk, to wear clothes and to be young and pretty. Most of us can manage the first two. And the third one is out of our control.
But to then promote some of these clothes horses to the status of supermodels is to invite precisely the sort of tantrum-throwing narcissism that we have seen from Naomi Campbell and others.
It is similar with superfoods. How many ancient grains, obscure legumes or unpopular fruit have you heard trumpeted as superfoods? And how many of them have still been trumpeted as superfoods a year later? Precisely.
There are no superfoods. They are only foods. Just as supermodels are merely models, superstars are merely stars, and both models and stars are merely flawed and fallible human beings like us all.
Super's a lie. But you can't ban it and it won't die. And it won't die because at heart it is religious.
All religion springs from the knowledge, that, like the rest of the natural world, we will die. That we are poor bare forked animals. That the surface of this earth is all we've got and we haven't got it for long. And such knowledge is insupportable, unbearable. So we flee it. We create transcendent deities to whom the truth does not apply: superman, supermodels, superstars, the supernatural, god. Self-delusion the lot of it. Palpable fiction. But more durable than fact.