CDC Newspeak Dictionary

The Centers for Disease Control has just released an updated edition of the New Speak Dictionary, that is to say, that the CDC has released a new “non-stigmantising” language guide. I read about this development from this article at Campus Reform.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently unveiled a lengthy “non-stigmatizing language” guide.

As Campus Reform has repeatedly reported, universities across the United States frequently implement “inclusive language” guides. The University of Michigan, for example, published a list of words that “are, or can be construed to be, racist, sexist, or non-inclusive.” Words such as “man,” “crazy,” “picnic,” “dummy,” “grandfathered in,” and “long time, no see” were deemed offensive in various ways.

Now, the nation’s top agency for addressing viral diseases has created a similar list of “Preferred Terms.”

 

“Language in communication products should reflect and speak to the needs of people in the audience of focus,” explains the CDC. “The following provides some preferred terms for select population groups; the terms to try to use represent an ongoing shift toward non-stigmatizing language.”

 

For example, the agency suggests replacing the phrase “smokers” with “people who smoke” and “alcoholics” with “persons with alcohol use disorder.” Similarly, they recommend swapping “homeless people” for “people experiencing homelessness” or “persons who are not securely housed.”

 

With respect to mental health, the CDC recommends using “specific disorders” whenever possible. Instead of “crazy” or “insane,” American should use “people with a diagnosis of a mental illness” or “people with a pre-existing mental health disorder.”

There is a lot more of this in the article and you can find the complete list of preferred terms here

I would think that an agency tasked with protecting the nation’s health would want their communications to be as clear as possible without any obfuscating euphemisms. I would suppose that they would feel that keeping people safe from disease, the whole purpose of even existing, might be just a little more important than keeping people from feeling stigmatized.

I think that it would be better for the Centers for Disease Control to express their findings bluntly and risk hurting feelings than for them to risk misunderstandings. As Dr. House put it. “What would you prefer – a doctor who holds your hand while you die or one who ignores you while you get better?”. Would you rather the CDC concentrated on fighting diseases or in being politically correct? I’d prefer they fight diseases. Too bad they have chosen otherwise. This makes it harder to take any of their recommendations on fighting the COVID pandemic seriously.