The Associated Press will not use words like “homophobia,” “ethnic cleansing,” or “Islamophobia” in its new new stylebook.
According Dylan Byers at Politico, the new decisions are part of the AP’s ongoing goal of being neutral.
“We want to be precise and accurate and neutral in our phrasing,” AP Deputy Standards Editor Dave Minthorn told Byers.
In the AP’s eyes, words like homophobia pathologize bigotry.
Minthorn added, “Homophobia especially — it’s just off the mark. 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.”
The AP’s online stylebook says that phobia should not be used “in political or social contexts.” It also calls “ethnic cleansing” a euphemism, and says it must be “enclosed in quotes, attributed and explained,” but never used on its own.
“Ethnic cleansing is a euphemism for pretty violent activities, a phobia is a psychiatric or medical term for a severe mental disorder. Those terms have been used quite a bit in the past, and we don’t feel that’s quite accurate,” Minthorn said.
“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,” he added.
The new changes made to the online stylebook will appear in next year’s print edition.
Do you agree with the Associated Press’s decision to use more neutral terms?