With Covid-19, the fair-minded among us might feel that the Centers for Disease Control has fallen short of Nobel caliber performance.
There were wildly exaggerated estimates, there were advisories that were issued and promptly reversed, there were false alarms, and so on.
And yet, praise God, amid the epidemic, busy CDC bureaucrats found time to compile an 11-page list of words and terms that should be shunned.
tear apart evaluate the list, let me highlight the CDC’s belief in effective communication: “Plain language makes it easier for everyone to understand and use health information. Although plain language is a familiar idea, many organizations don’t use it as often as they should.”
How can I put this?
You know when the magician holds up his left hand and waggles his fingers? Your eyes are drawn to the moving fingers.
That’s when his right hand slides unseen in your pocket.
It’s called distraction and that is what CDC is doing here: claiming to do one thing — creating plain language — while doing precisely the opposite. The “helpful” list reaches far beyond health issues, into social issues that are outside the CDC’s area of supposed expertise.
The distraction is not a new trick. It’s been going on for decades, with the Politically Correct tide now reaching flood stage. We are told to address some individuals as plural, that men can give birth, that white people are irredeemably racist. If we don’t join in the wacky groupthink, we are told there is something wrong with us.
Sadly, the Associated Press becomes a drum major in the PC parade by twisting itself into knots to find euphemisms for words that are clearly understood. I wrote about this once before on my blog.
My complaint that changing, for example, “ex-con” to “returning citizen” is not plain English. It is an attempt to obfuscate, to blur reality to meet some hidden social agenda. In a misguided attempt to avoid “stigmatizing” those who have done bad things, we are to sacrifice the truth, distort reality, and basically whitewash their past.
That may be D.A. Larry Krasner’s idea of social justice, but it should repel any journalist with a commitment to the truth, warts and all. It should offend anyone who likes unvarnished truth, and plain facts.
I will guide you through the fog spread by the CDC. If you don’t believe me — because some of this mental drek is unbelievable — check the link I provided above. The CDC has evolved from covering your mouth with a mask, to shutting your mouth.
Why is this an issue?
If the government can control speech, it can control thought.
Proponents of Political Correctness claim it makes for a kinder, gentler society. In reality, it makes for a society in which people are afraid to speak honestly, directly, frankly. It creates a suffocating fear of harming someone’s, anyone’s feelings, as if being polite was a higher value than honesty. Freedom of speech includes the right to be rude.
Most of the CDC’s suggestions, when analyzed, are laughable to the rational mind.
Let’s jump into the fetid bog and skim some of the suggestions.
CDC asks us to avoid “disabled, afflicted, handicapped, confined to a wheelchair” and “differently abled.”
I have to tell you, “differently abled” was yesterday’s euphemism to replace “disabled.” It had a very short shelf life before falling into disfavor.
Instead of perfectly clear terms, the CDC pushes us to try these: “People with a disability, people with an intellectual or developmental disability, people who use a wheelchair.”
Take a look. All it does is add the word “people” at the front end, plus a few more words.
Instead of “drug-users/addicts/drug abusers, alcoholics/abusers, persons who relapsed, smokers,” CDC would substitute “persons who use drugs/people who inject drugs, persons with substance use disorder, persons with alcohol use disorder, persons in recovery from substance use/alcohol disorder, people who smoke.”
See? Not “smokers,” but “people who smoke.”
See the difference?
Instead of “underserved people/communities/the underserved,” which I see in the paper every day, CDC prefers, “people who are underserved by [specific service/resource].
By the same token, why say “homeless people” when you can say “people experiencing unsheltered homelessness.” As opposed to sheltered homelessness, I guess.
Instead of “poor people,” let’s say “people with self-reported income in the lowest income bracket.”
I can hear you say I am making this up — “people with self-reported income in the lowest income bracket”? Really?
That’s why I provided the link. Look it up yourself.
Replace “mentally ill” (a step up from crazy) with “people with a mental illness.”
Now we get to “non-U.S.-born persons,” which I did not know was a health issue.
No, non, nyet to “illegals, illegal immigrants, illegal aliens, illegal migrants, foreigners, the foreign-born.”
Foreigners is now a slur?
CDC would launder language (and thought) by putting these word-salad concoctions out there: “People (here we go again) with undocumented status, mixed-status households, immigrant, (which erases the concept of legality), migrant, asylee or asylum seeker, refugee or refugee populations, non-U.S.-born persons/foreign-born persons.” Wait! I thought “foreign-born” was banned?
When you are making this crap up, you’ve got to pay attention. This verbal sludge seems like the work of a committee of sociology grad students at Brown University.
Oh — I mean people who are advanced students at Brown University.
Let’s keep wading ahead and find out what to replace “elderly, senior, frail, fragile” with.
That would be “Older adults or elders.” So “elders” is OK, but “elderly” is not.
I’m close to 80 and find elderly or senior all right, preferable only to decrepit, dinosaur and fogey,
Instead of “rural people” or “frontier people” (you see that term every day), go for
hicks (sorry, I couldn’t resist a joke), “people who live in rural/sparsely populated areas.” Carrying U.S. Census reports seems like a good idea.
If you are part of the nonbinary, non-cisgender community, you will be happy to learn “homosexual” is now out, but “queer” is in. And I remember when “queer” was a slur.
CDC also does not like gendered pronouns, like him/her/he/she, etc. This confuses me. Kaitlyn Jenner demands to be recognized as she, but CDC say to avoid personal pronouns. There’s a whole bunch more for the LGBTQIA2 (I am not making this up) community, but I want to race (no pun intended) to racial terms, again being some kind of health or disease issue.
Generally, don’t refer to people as their race ancestry, says CDC, such as Blacks, Hispanics, Latinos, Whites (with a capital W!), American Indians, etc. Also kicked to the curb are Native American, Eskimo (Inuit is OK?), Oriental, Afro-American, Negro, Caucasian, the Black community.
Instead, add the word “persons” after every group and that will make it honky dory: Asian persons, Black or African-American person, White persons, and so on.
Look — when a term like “the Black community” is somehow objectionable, you must know you are not dealing with sensible persons.
Or persons who have left their brains on the floor.