AP Quits Use of Islamophobia/Homophobia in Reporting

We often take after the fine folks at the Associated Press for biased “reporting.” But as we criticize when warranted so should we praise when warranted and the AP has done something praiseworthy by telling its correspondents to stop using “Islamophobia” and “homophobia” in their reporting.

On November 26, Politico reported that the AP made some changes to its online style guide, that set of grammatical and language usage rules it requires writers to abide by when writing the news. Out, AP decided, was the phrase “ethnic cleansing” as well as the words “Islamophobia” and “homophobia,” all because they are emotionally tinged words that really have no precise meaning — all are essentially euphemisms, not logical, properly descriptive words.

Said AP,

“Ethnic cleansing is a euphemism for pretty violent activities, a phobia is a psychiatric or medical term for a severe mental disorder. Those terms have been used quite a bit in the past, and we don’t feel that’s quite accurate,” AP Deputy Standards Editor Dave Minthorn told POLITICO.

“When you break down ‘ethnic cleansing,’ it’s a cover for terrible violent activities. It’s a term we certainly don’t want to propagate,” Minthorn continued. “Homophobia especially — it’s just off the mark. It’s ascribing a mental disability to someone, and suggests a knowledge that we don’t have. It seems inaccurate. Instead, we would use something more neutral: anti-gay, or some such, if we had reason to believe that was the case.”

These changes are sensible and worthy of praise.

Sticking the suffix “phobia” on a word is little else but an assumption that whatever is being tagged “phobic” is somehow obviously an irrational fear. But the fact is calling someone Islamophobic is not something provable on its face. Standing against Islam does not make one clearly phobic over the religion. Similarly, criticizing homosexuality or homosexuals does not prove an irrational fear of gays any more than criticizing weathermen makes one weatherophobic.

There is a great quote by Jules Henri Poincaré that is apropos here: “To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection.”

This is applicable because by affixing “ophobia” onto words dispenses with having to think about the criticism the purported phobic is offering. It is all pure emotionalism meant specifically to denigrate critics and destroy their criticism before any thought is given to their points.

The same is true with “ethnic cleansing.” It has gotten to the point where if there is even a hint of a racial element to the story any crime or conflagration perpetrated by a government is termed ethnic cleansing. It has become over used to the point of meaninglessness and similarly suffers from an overly emotional entomology.

Kudos to AP for elimination these absurd abuses of logic.

Now if only they can stop using phrases like “gun crime” and we’d be golden.

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  • Commander_Chico

    I agree!

    “Gun crime” would appear to have a clear enough meaning, though: crime using guns.

    • jim_m

      Not really. The only gun crimes are illegal possession and illegal sale. If I commit a crime with a gun it is typically aggravated robbery, or assault with a deadly weapon, etc. The only reason to talk about gun crimes is to create hysteria surrounding guns and thus a climate conducive to gun control. It isn’t any better if a criminal points a gun at you or holds a knife to your throat.

      The real gun crimes are the laws that prohibit law abiding people from owning guns and using them to protect themselves.

      • warnertoddhuston

        Exactly right, Jim. Besides, GUNS do not commit crimes. People do.

      • Commander_Chico

        Complaining about the phrase “gun crime” about crime using guns is just a type of right-wing political correctness.

        • herddog505

          No, it’s a push-back against lefty efforts to demonize firearms.

          jim_m is exactly right: the crime is NOT “he had a gun!”: it’s “he killed / injured / robbed / raped / threatened” somebody. I note also that we don’t have the terms “knife crime” or “baseball bat crime” or “lead pipe in the conservatory crime”.

          • Commander_Chico

            We do have “automobile offenses.” Nobody takes it to blame Ford or Chevy for the hit-and-run.

          • herddog505

            I’m not really familiar with the term “car crime”…

            As for not blaming Ford or Chevy, I wish that people were so reasonable when it comes to Remington or S&W. The idea that we have to have laws to stop companies being sued because some yahoo misused their product is a sad commentary on our society.

          • Commander_Chico

            “car crime”


            I am in favor of gun rights, but ignoring how guns make rapid killing easier and guns’ role in crimes is just ignoring a truth of the world, which is what political correctness is often about.

            Would Kasandra Perkins and Jovan Belcher still be alive if he didn’t have a gun? Quite possible, it’s a lot more personal, intimate and takes more will to stab someone than to just pull the trigger. For example, not too many people commit suicide by stabbing themselves.

          • herddog505

            I’m not eager to curtail other peoples’ rights because an inanimate object allegedly makes it “easier” to commit a crime or tragedy. Or should we stop people driving, having a drink, using the internet, getting prescriptions for sleeping pills, etc? For that matter, given the (staggering) number of people killed as a result of government action in human history, should we stop people forming governments?

          • Digg34

            Tall buildings, bridges, hangings, trains. Guess there could be laws banning those.

  • jim_m

    Can we add “Hate crime” on that list? Because hate crimes are just 1984-ish thought crimes with a name that lets the left feel more comfortable with their fascism.

    Hate crimes criminalize motives and create classes of people where it is a more serious crime to do something wrong to them than it is to do the same thing to others. Murder, assault, vandalism… these are all crimes regardless of the motivation.

    • Commander_Chico

      Criminal law punishes motives all of the time – “with the intent to” is an operative phrase in many many laws. Motive is the difference between three years for vehicular homicide and the death penalty for first degree murder. It’s the difference between a dismissal on costs for possession of coke, and two years in the slammer for possession of coke with intent to sell it.

      I am not happy with these hate crime laws myself, mostly because they are misapplied by law enforcement, but as long as they are limited to criminalizing acts and not speech alone, they can be lived with.

      Punching someone in the face just because they are white, or black, is worse than punching someone in the face because they tried to pick up your girlfriend. If the legislature chooses to recognize that, no big deal.

      • herddog505

        Commander_Chico[A]s long as [hate crime laws] are limited to criminalizing acts and not speech alone, they can be lived with.

        Well, that’s rather the problem, isn’t it? Anyway, tell it to the Brits:

        Fear or provocation of violence.

        (1)A person is guilty of an offence if he:

        (a)uses towards another person threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or [emphasis mine – hd505]

        (b)distributes or displays to another person any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,

        — Public Order Act of 1986

        While the British courts do not appear to be exactly zealous in prosecuting some offenses under this statute, such are not unknown:

        An elderly street preacher from Bournemouth was subjected to assault and ridicule whilst proclaiming his Christian views in the town centre. Harry Hammond, 69, suffered from Asperger syndrome (a type of autism), making communication with others difficult for him. In October 2001, Mr Hammond was preaching in Bournemouth town centre holding a sign bearing the words, ‘Jesus Gives Peace, Jesus is Alive, Stop Immorality, Stop Homosexuality, Stop Lesbianism, Jesus is Lord’.

        The sign drew an angry crowd of around 40 people who became violent towards Mr Hammond for displaying what they saw as an insulting message. The situation resulted in Harry Hammond being forced to the ground where some people poured mud and water on him. When two police officers arrived at the scene, there was a disagreement as to whether they should protect him or arrest him; eventually Mr Hammond was arrested. No violent members of the crowd were arrested.


        At any rate, why on earth can you be comfortable with giving the government (you know: that big, powerful organization controlled by TEH OLIGARCHY) the power to toss you into the klink for simply saying something that somebody else doesn’t like?

        • Commander_Chico

          Why didn’t you throw in Russian law, or Dutch law, whatever that is? The UK is another country, as is Canada. I don’t approve of the UK law you mention.

          I was referring to so-called hate crime laws in the USA, which only punish acts like punching or stabbing people, burning their house down, or explicit threats which are already criminalized. These hate crime laws mean little, because they don’t punish anything not already illegal.

          What governments do in other countries is up to them, I need only be mindful when I am in those countries.

          • herddog505

            I mention the UK laws as an example of where this sort of foolishness leads. Further, in my experience, lefties like to cite foreign law as an example of how we ought to do things here.

            At any rate, other than to establish mens rea, I fail to see why the motive of a defendant should make a bit of difference to determining his guilt* or to setting his sentence if he’s found guilty. If a person is dead, injured, robbed, raped, etc., it seems to me of little concern whether his assailant “hated” him because of race, color, creed, sexual orientation, etc.

            Consider two cases:

            1. A villain robs a liquor store, shooting the unresisting owner to death during the robbery;

            2. A villain robs a liquor store, shooting the unresisting owner to death during the robbery. There is reason to believe that the villain robbed that particular store because of racial animosity toward the owner.

            Should the charge or sentence be different in the two cases? Why or why not? My own view is that the villain ought to be charged with murder (along with any other related crimes including armed robbery, perhaps unlawful possession of a firearm, etc.) and, if found guilty, executed. It makes no difference to me whether he “hated” his victim; I take it as a given that people who harm others generally don’t love them (or, if they do, they’ve got a screw loose).

            Consider two other cases:

            1. A gang uses physical violence and intimidation to extort money from a community and prevent its people complaining to the authorities;

            2. A gang uses physical violence and intimidation to terrorize a community and prevent its people complaining to the authorities based on their hatred of its members, who are predominantly from a difference racial, ethnic or religious group.

            Should the official response be different between the two cases? Should members of the gang be charged or sentenced differently? Why or why not? My view is that, whether it’s the mafia, the klan, a drug cartel, skinheads, or a garden-variety street gang: the police should crack down hard on such gangs and their members; aside from establishing mental competence, it makes no difference to me WHY a bully-boy burned a house down, beat up a shopowner, or conveyed a threat.


            (*) This is not to say that motivation may not sway a jury. I think it reasonable to assert, for example, that a jury might be more inclined to convinct a defendant if the prosecution could establish in their minds that he is a mean, hateful man who might LIKE to commit such a crime, or at least would not be troubled if somebody else did it.

          • Commander_Chico

            Old fashioned robbers aren’t as bad as guys out on some racial rampage. Just my opinion.

            First degree murder is always murder – usually a minimum mandatory sentence, does not make much difference.

            These laws only make a difference on the low end of offenses – for example, the unprovoked “sucker punch” to the “cracker” or threat to burn down the house of the “nigger” who just moved onto the block.

            Truth is, in most cases the judge can sentence the offense about the same, with or without the hate crime element. In fact, the hate crime only adds something for the prosecutor to prove, which is why they will also always charge the underlying crime, like A&B or threats.

            But the existence of these laws send a message against racially motivated violence.

            Aside from that it would be on the convict’s record for future reference if he does it again.

            Again, it’s no big whoop whether these laws exist or not to me, but the legislature has spoken and people make too much out of them.

          • herddog505


            1. They don’t make much difference except as a tool to make a petty crime more costly;

            2. The judge is gonna do pretty much what he wants whether the crimes are on the books or not;

            3. It’s THE LAW (step back in time to 1859 and say that).

            As for the message it sends: some animals are more equal than others. Is this REALLY how we want out country to be?

  • Digg34

    I was expecting to read that “these words will just be replaced with rightwing”

  • Asad Hasan

    THATS F***** UP…hate is a mental disease and should be described as such…anti-gay…or anti islam makes it sounds like its ok…but its homophobia and islamophobia are the precise words to describe this mental disease of hate. All apart the writers should have the freedom to write their mind without this retarded censorship.

    • herddog505

      Really? So, if it can (somehow) be demonstrated that a person “hates” other people on the basis of their religion, sexual orientation, race, creed, nation of origin, political affiliation, alma mater, favorite NFL team, etc., should the authorities have the authority to lock them up for psychological evaluation? Order them to undergo psychological treatment?

      There’s a book that you might need to read called 1984 by a British author named George Orwell…

      Incidentally, would it be fair to ask if you “hate” homophobes and islamophobes?