Politico reports that the Associated Press has decided to ban some controversial words and phrases from its famous Stylebook “in political or social contexts”–including “ethnic cleansing”, and words that end in “-phobia”.
When questioned on its “Ask The Editor” page about the decision to stop using the word “homophobia”,, the AP responded by writing, “Phobia means irrational, uncontrollable fear, often a form of mental illness. In terms like homophobia, it’s often speculation. The reasons for anti-gay feelings or actions may not be apparent. Specifics are better than vague characterizations of a person’s general feelings about something.”
On the removal of the phrase “ethnic cleansing”, the AP told Politico, “When you break down ‘ethnic cleansing,’ it’s a cover for terrible violent activities. It’s a term we certainly don’t want to [propagate].”
The Twitterati’s reaction to these changes have been mixed:
AP has banned “homophobia” and “islamophobia” on grounds of inaccuracy.Sounds crazy until you realize how much better any other words are.
— Doug Saunders (@DougSaunders) November 28, 2012
I agree with the @ap. “Homophobia” is a word so carelessly used, it’s way too unspecific to belong in a hard news story. OK in an op piece.
— J Paul S (@LingFan1) November 28, 2012
Bravo, AP eliminating such terms as “ethnic cleansing,” “Islamophobia” and “homophobia” from its official lexiconpjmedia.com/tatler/2012/11…
— Eric Larson (@larsoneric50) November 27, 2012
— Jeff Chu (@jeffchu) November 28, 2012
Why the AP is wrong to ban the word “homophobia”. My latest piece for Guardian. Contains phrase “widespread bumming”: guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/…
— Patrick Strudwick (@PatrickStrud) November 27, 2012
What do you think? Do you agree with the AP’s changes? Tell us in the comments section below.
[Image: Flickr user Christopher]