I thought it surreal when AP dropped the term "terrorist" and substituted "militant" a few years ago. But this really defies reality.
The Associated Press on Tuesday announced it will no longer use the term "illegal immigrant" or "illegal" to describe a person -- but did not say which term, if any, should take its place.
The AP Stylebook has been updated to state that it no longer sanctions the use of "illegal" or "illegal immigrant" for a person, senior vice president and executive editor Kathleen Carroll wrote in a blog post. The Stylebook now directs that "illegal" should only be used to describe an action, "such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally," Carroll noted.
The AP aims to label "behavior" instead of "people," Carroll wrote, pointing out that "the new section on mental health issues argues for using credibly sourced diagnoses instead of labels. Saying someone was 'diagnosed with schizophrenia' instead of schizophrenic, for example." The AP, she said, is working on "ridding the Stylebook of labels."
"And that discussion about labeling people, instead of behavior, led us back to 'illegal immigrant' again," she said. "We concluded that to be consistent, we needed to change our guidance. So we have."
Carroll added that the AP will continue to examine the best way to describe "someone in a country without permission." The AP has decided that using "illegal" only to refer to an action, not a person, is the best way to go "for now."
"We also believe more evolution is likely down the road," she added.
I guess this means the terms "robber" and "murderer" are also out, since they "label" people, not behavior. How about "adulterer?" Or "liar?"
Pretty soon, that stylebook, which we loosely use here at AT but is a religious text in many newsrooms, won't have many words that can be used at all.
It's called "doublespeak," friends. And George Orwell would have seen it for what it was in a second.