Newspeak in the Associated Press Stylebook:
The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term “illegal immigrant” or the use of “illegal” to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that “illegal” should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.
The discussions on this topic have been wide-ranging and include many people from many walks of life. (Earlier, they led us to reject descriptions such as “undocumented,” despite ardent support from some quarters, because it is not precise. A person may have plenty of documents, just not the ones required for legal residence.)…
Also, we had in other areas been ridding the Stylebook of labels. 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…
Is this the best way to describe someone in a country without permission? We believe that it is for now. We also believe more evolution is likely down the road.
Ah, “evolution.” Dave Weigel’s right to see that word as a tell, whether in the gay-marriage context or here. Once you see yourself as “evolving,” you’re all but guaranteeing further change towards a political position you’re resisting right now. Can’t wait to find out which Newspeak neologism will follow this if “undocumented” has already been ruled out. “Strangers from beyond” has a nice mystique to it. Although, if push comes to shove, “future Democratic voters” probably wins on accuracy.
The timing here suggests that this is the AP’s dumb little way of cheerleading for immigration reform in Congress — amnesty shills have been pushing the “no human being is ‘illegal’ slogan for years — but in that case why not excise the term “illegal” altogether? They’re not dropping it, they’re just nudging their reporters to apply it to a person’s behavior rather than to the person himself. The real loser is AP copy writers who now need to replace “illegal immigrant” with “friend you haven’t met yet” or whatever.
And Sonny Bunch is Tweeting lots of examples of stupid word-twisting we may eventually see:
Welcome and honored guests of America who are not here legally but we really, really like."
"'Drug addict' is out. Please use 'Person who consumes a more-than-optimal quantity of narcotics.'"
"We will stop using 'illiterate.' The preferred nomenclature is now 'Person who has chosen to forego learning their letters.'"
"In sports, 'losing team' to be replaced by 'team that scored the fewest points but probably tried really hard.'"
We have to go through this kind of nonsense every few months whenever AP feels the need to wear its politically correct heart on its sleeve. We just went through it with "the mentally ill" becoming "people with mental illness," as if that's somehow going to magically change how people feel about mental illness. Is changing "illegal immigrant" to "people who immigrate here illegally" anything but feel-good stupidity?