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Word police

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Monday, February 22, 2016 08:05 am

The Word Police are on the job. This time, they're out to protect the delicate sensibilities of sensitive progressives who just can't stand some of the offensive words and phrases they encounter on the Internet. Now, with s simple Google add-on to their Chrome browser, they can visit any number of news and opinion sites where the horrible term “pro-life” appears, and in each and every instance the term will helpfully be replaced with, “anti-choice.”

It isn't really that liberals feel threatened by the pro-life language. They are offended by it. "Pro-life" gives the movement a positive spin that liberals can't abide, so in their own minds, and of course on their own websites, they will think of it as "anti-choice," which makes their own arguments seem more righteous. Of course, "pro-choice" is the preferred name of the liberal movement, and it puts a positive spin on things conservatives don't think deserve a positive spin. I would say pro-choice people are really pro-abortion people or, heck, maybe even pro-death or anti-life, but I'm not going to try to rewrite everything that comes into my browser. If you've been following what's happening on college campuses these days, you know it's the progressives who are the hothouse flowers who just don't want to hear what they don't want to hear:

Would Google tolerate a tool which took every liberal diatribe on web and substituted the term “gun control” with “anti-gun rights” in the text? How about if it replaced “voter suppression” with “voter fraud prevention” in every voter ID opinion piece? Somehow I suspect it would be less well received. In fact, we should probably contact a few lawyers about this because editing the work of others without their express consent or any claim of ownership of the original material sounds as if it should certainly be illegal, doesn’t it? It’s also an open door to completely ruin the original material in some cases. 

Of course you don't have to look very far to find people who think this substitution game is just fine:

Although the term "pro-life" is the favored term among people who oppose abortion access, people have been pointing out for years that the term is misleading. For one thing, plenty of anti-abortion activists oppose abortion access even in instances where an abortion would save the life of the pregnant woman, and sometimes even deny that such a situation even exists, despite medical consensus to the contrary.

Plus there's the kind of galling fact that the same conservatives who call themselves pro-life also support things like war and torture and unmanned drone strikes and the death penalty. The same conservatives who care so much about fetuses send the National Guard to confront unarmed refugee children. The same conservatives who think life matters so much in the womb actively oppose any effort to save the more than 30,000 people killed by firearms each year.

So, yeah, take that, ya anti-choice monsters!

Ah, well. People always label their movements with the words and phrases that put them in the best light. I think it's generally a good idea for those of us in the news business to use the words chosen by the movements they describe. If we use "pro-choice" and "pro-life" it's a way of showing respect for each movement and the people in them. If we change one of them, insist on pro-abortion, say, for the one movement but continue to use pro-life for the other one, all we're doing is showing our own biases. The Associated Press recently decided to use "anti-abortion" instead of pro-life and "pro-abortion rights" instead of pro-choice. I suppose that's technically more accurate, but I don't know if it adds anything to the debate.

This can get kind of tricky sometimes. Several years ago, I got into an argument with a former colleague who became a teacher and was escorting a class through a tour of the newspaper. I asked him why the students were capitalizing Black in their news stories (this was before "African American," so right away you know this is an old story). He said it was because that's the way Black people wanted it. But, I said, that means you will have Black capitalized and white uncapitalized in the same story. "Yeah, that's right," he said. "So what?"

I'd still argue with him about that today, but I probably wouldn't be quite so strident about it.

ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS

Some Ivy League Crybullies at Brown University decided to use the occasion of a speech by a hero and survivor of harsh Soviet prison camps to stage an anti-Israel protest. Guess who required the presence of  an assistant dean to provide “academic and emotional support”?

Farewell to Jeb Bush, who may have run the most pathetic presidential campaign in modern history. Come on, Kasich and Carson, it's time to follow his lead and put the country first. Get off the stage and let us concentrate on the three-man race the GOP primary has turned into. Some are even saying that with everybody else out and Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio still in, neither will beat Donald Trump. I dunno. Let's see a primary or two with that lineup and see what happens.

A lot of time and effort are wasted here explaining why so many millennials are socialist. Let's not overthink this, OK. They're young and stupid, without knowledge or experience. It's easy to fill their heads with mush. Time and experience will wise up many of them.

Pope Francis is calling for a global ban on the death penalty. Just can't stay out of secular affairs, can he?

How not to measure temperature (unless, of course, you're trying to bolster the claims of global warming, then anything goes.

The scary view liberals have of the rest of us. Jeffrey Toobin says Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia tried but mostly failed to create an America less fair, less tolerant and less admirable. Jeez, Jeff. Stop pussyfootin' around and say what you really think.

WORD OF THE DAY

abstemious (ab-STEE-me-uhs), adj. — sparing or moderate in eating and drinking; temperate in diet; characterized by abstinence:

an abstemious life; sparing, as in: "The editorial writer was not a picky eater, but he felt absolutely abstemious next to the gluttonous politician."

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