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Words with negative power
by Clarence Page
In its never-ending effort to avoid misleading language in news coverage, The Associated Press Stylebook has decided to declare Islamophobia, homophobia and presumably other non-clinical uses of the word "phobia" to be a new taboo.
What's the problem? "It's just off the mark," AP deputy standards editor David Minthorn explained to Politico. "It's ascribing a mental disability to someone and suggests a knowledge that we don't have. It seems inaccurate. Instead, we would use something more neutral: anti-gay, or some such, if we had reason to believe that was the case."
Too bad. Words have power. Striking out such commonly used and unfortunately timely terms strikes me as a linguistic blow for blandness.
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