Weaponiz­ing lan­guage and com­mu­ni­ca­tion

The new ‘AP Style­book’ em­braces po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness and a lib­eral ver­sion of truth

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Tammy Bruce

Fake News has be­come known for be­ing a false story, gos­sip or even lies pro­mul­gated by the legacy me­dia. We know what our news me­dia es­tab­lish­ment of­ten de­liv­ers is noth­ing more than opin­ion mas­querad­ing as news. That in it­self is a huge prob­lem. We’re all learn­ing about how to rec­og­nize it and how se­ri­ously to take it, if at all. But there’s an­other at­tack on our free­dom to re­ceive real in­for­ma­tion that is even more in­sid­i­ous than the glut of news ac­tors spew­ing gos­sip 24/7: the chang­ing and con­trol­ling the lan­guage it­self, while mak­ing sure jour­nal­ists ev­ery­where con­form to a lib­eral and po­lit­i­cally cor­rect ver­sion of events. Cer­tain words are banned, while oth­ers which are meant to in­flu­ence read­ers ide­o­log­i­cally, are pro­moted.

You don’t need to go to Ge­orge Or­well for this story, you just need to read the an­nual As­so­ci­ated Press guide called the “Style­book,” which is os­ten­si­bly meant to help jour­nal­ists with is­sues con­cern­ing ba­sic things like punc­tu­a­tion, gram­mar and, yes, which words to use.

A red flag should shoot up for you when we con­sider a me­dia en­tity di­rect­ing other jour­nal­ists on which words to use be­cause, af­ter all, word choice is an in­her­ently per­sonal de­ci­sion, es­pe­cially for writ­ers. The left un­der­stands that he who con­trols def­i­ni­tion con­trols the is­sues, and with po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness they con­tinue to weaponize lan­guage and com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

In the case of the 2017 “AP Style­book,” CNS News re­ports, “jour­nal­ists [are asked to] re­frain from us­ing terms like “pro-life,” “mi­grant,” “refugee,” “Is­lamist” and “ter­ror­ist” in their writ­ing.”

Con­sider this sec­tion from the “Style­book” on im­mi­gra­tion and mi­grants:

“Mi­grants nor­mally are peo­ple who move from place to place for tem­po­rary work or eco­nomic ad­van­tage. The term also may be used for those whose rea­son for leav­ing is not clear, or to cover peo­ple who may also be refugees or asy­lum-seek­ers, but other terms are strongly pre­ferred: peo­ple strug­gling to en­ter Europe, Cubans seek­ing new lives in the United States,” re­ports WJLA.

As you might imag­ine, the AP in­sists their goal is to make things clearer. Sure. At WJLA, a for­mer AP stan­dards edi­tor in­sisted, “We don’t see AP’s news re­port as a tool for so­cial en­gi­neer­ing. … But if a sug­ges­tion will make our re­port fairer, more con­sid­er­ate or more bal­anced, we’re in­ter­ested.”

But let’s be hon­est — this is noth­ing less than an ef­fort to con­trol the de­bate, and con­di­tion read­ers into be­liev­ing, well, that the mas­sive wave of eco­nomic mi­grants from the Mid­dle East into Europe isn’t an in­va­sion or even il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, it’s “peo­ple strug­gling the en­ter Europe,” as though that’s all that’s hap­pen­ing.

This is the lib­eral world­view, of course, and has noth­ing to do with clar­ity. Quite the op­po­site, in fact. This is noth­ing more than a con­tin­u­a­tion of the lib­eral ef­fort to con­trol def­i­ni­tion, con­trol lan­guage and there­fore con­trol out­comes.

Imag­ine, with the stroke of a pen there are no more “il­le­gal im­mi­grants,” or mass Mus­lim mi­gra­tion from the Mid­dle East into Europe, only “peo­ple strug­gling” and “seek­ing new lives,” is what we’re al­lowed to be told, iron­i­cally of­fer­ing the ex­act value judg­ment the AP in­sists it’s work­ing to elim­i­nate.

Yet words are used to de­fine de­bate and the me­dia has en­joyed decades of be­ing able to do just that.

In a col­umn at The Hill, Rachel Alexan­der made note of var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal changes over the years in the “Style­book”:

“Use of “anti-abor­tion” in­stead of “pro-life” to de­scribe those who are op­posed to abor­tion. Re­jec­tion of “Is­lamist” as a syn­onym for Is­lamic fight­ers or ex­trem­ists, on the ba­sis that not all who view the Ko­ran as a po­lit­i­cal model sup­port vi­o­lence. Re­fer­ring to “il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion,” but not say­ing “il­le­gal im­mi­grants” or “un­doc­u­mented.” De­scrib­ing those who dis­miss the cli­mate sci­ence con­sen­sus as “cli­mate change doubters.”

Ms. Alexan­der con­tin­ues, “Even when in­di­vid­ual au­thors do not ad­here to the bias of AP Style, it of­ten doesn’t mat­ter. If they sub­mit an ar­ti­cle to a main­stream me­dia out­let, they will likely see their words edited to con­form. A pro-life au­thor who sub­mits a piece tak­ing a po­si­tion against abor­tion will see the words ‘pro-life’ changed to ‘anti-abor­tion,’ be­cause the “AP Style­book” in­structs, ‘Use anti-abor­tion in­stead of pro-life and pro-abor­tion rights in­stead of pro-abor­tion or pro-choice.’ It goes on, ‘Avoid abor­tion­ist,’ say­ing the term ‘con­notes a per­son who per­forms clan­des­tine abor­tions.’ ” Let’s see if we’re clear here: When it comes to re­fer­ring to ac­tivists in­volved with the abor­tion is­sue, AP tells re­porters to not re­fer to them or their ef­forts as “pro-life,” which is how they re­fer to them­selves. Yet, WJLA re­ports, “In many cases, such as re­port­ing on the LGBTQ com­mu­nity, the AP’s guid­ance en­cour­ages writ­ers to use the term that peo­ple pre­fer to use to de­scribe them­selves.” Sure, no bias there at all. Dur­ing the past decade, the In­ter­net has been a rev­e­la­tion for con­sumers of news. We are learn­ing how far the legacy me­dia is will­ing to go to ma­nip­u­late and mis­lead the au­di­ence. It takes ac­tive read­ing and lis­ten­ing, but we can now dis­cern the dif­fer­ence be­tween gos­sip, lies and ac­tual news.

We have an equally im­por­tant mis­sion of re­mem­ber­ing that words, con­text and truth mat­ter. And just be­cause ev­ery­one in me­dia might be say­ing the same thing, that doesn’t make it true, it may just be a tes­ta­ment to the power of so-called jour­nal­ists con­form­ing to a ‘style­book.’

The left un­der­stands that he who con­trols def­i­ni­tion con­trols the is­sues, and with po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness they con­tinue to weaponize lan­guage and com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Tammy Bruce, au­thor and Fox News con­trib­u­tor, is a ra­dio talk show host.

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