The CDC’s Forbidden Vocabulary – Updated

18Dec Update
Apparently the list of words were not handed down to the CDC, but were created by the CDC as “a technique to help secure Republican approval of the 2019 budget….” This makes -far- more sense than the Washington Post reported. I hope that we all learned a lesson this weekend about the dangers of jumping to conclusions. More importantly I hope that folks in general realized how important little words are -especially when told that you cannot use them.
Time for me to get back to reading! After yesterday’s post I was inspired to read Fahrenheit 451. Oh censorship.


Original post follows —

The other day when I was checking the morning news I was surprised to see several friends sharing links about new apparent changes to the CDC’s language guidelines.


This is weird on so many levels. Who doles out style guide changes with budget documents? When do presidential administrations start banning words they don’t like? Well, now I suppose. All of this goes against the grain of standard policy. I know that a lot of people voted for Trump because he promised to shake up politics and “drain the swamp” but banning the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from saying FETUS is nothing short of absurd. What is a fetus? It’s a human stage of growth. That’s like being forbidden to call young frogs tadpoles. Who does this benefit? Who does this harm?

In general, I love a good style guide and style sheet. It’s good to know what language is preferred (and why). But banning -without good reason- “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based” falls outside of good style sheet changes. If it is not good or normal, what is it? Smells like fear to me…but why?

The timing and mode are worth looking into also. Important information is rarely distributed before a weekend (because distraction is real). And shoe-horning language changes into an unrelated document is a political move, not a business practice. Obviously the persons implementing this change were trying to slip it in under the radar. But their…subtlety has gone the opposite direction because of the absurdity of the changes.

Clearly I have more questions than answers here, but that’s normal in public discourse especially when others are less than forthcoming with their reasoning. If the new language rules stick around, I hope that we the people are given logical reasons for the changes. Specifically, I am looking for explanations that are not founded in fear or so drenched in emotion that reason drowns.

Where are our Vulcan representatives? I would vote for a Vulcan in a hot minute.

Ready for another editorial? Here ya go: Why I Quit Instagram (again)


Author: Tracey

Tracey has a bachelor’s degree in Technical Writing from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She has one amazing husband and two fluffy beasts.

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