Letter: Language and thought, AP Style
The editor’s note appended to David E. Johnson’s letter “Allow uncensored debate” (The Aspen Times, Commentary, April 1) observes that Associated Press style guidelines have determined that a person who entered this country illegally may not be called “an illegal” or “illegal immigrant.”
By this logic, no one who has committed a criminal act may be deemed “a criminal.” And obviously a person convicted of a felony is not “a felon,” nor is someone who cheats on his taxes “a tax cheat.”
So what about people who — armed with binoculars and a nest cam — habitually watch birds? Surely they are not “birdwatchers,” since this makes them sound rather creepy-peepy perverted, if you ask me, with a touch of OCD thrown in. Nor will it do to dress them up as “ornithologists,” since big words like this — think “philanderers,” “miscegenists” and “misogynists” — all have a pretty sinister tone to them.
As for the person hired to edit other people’s prose before it appears on the pages of this paper, is she an “editor?” Sounds pretty authoritarian, judgmental and downright censorious, does it not? As for me being a “reader,” no thanks! The word makes me sound passive and addicted, someone with nothing better to do than stare at The Aspen Times. You might as well call me a “stoner.”
Tell you what, let’s do away with language altogether. If my safe space keeps getting invaded by hurtful words, I may have to go back to college, where at least I’ll receive counseling if I’m exposed to “Trump 2016” written in chalk on a campus sidewalk.
And on that subject, if by some miracle Donald Trump is elected, it won’t be thanks to the Associated Press, but rather to the millions of us who, like David E. Johnson of Carbondale, still believe in calling a spade a spade.
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