Sunday, December 17, 2017

Define Your Own Reality: The New Seven Dirty Words

What began earlier this year as an assault on climate science continues the week with a directive by CDC officials to have employees avoid seven particular words in their funding proposals. These words, which clearly rankle conservatives even more than George Carlin's famously dirty seven words, would presumably raise red flags among the more conservative legislators in Washington. From this article in the Washington Post,
Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
The charitable explanation for this change would be that Betsy DeVos called the president and said that these words were too big for her to understand and could the president please change them to more monosyllabic terms.

The reality, though, is far scarier. This is not a change on the order of Ronald Reagan saying that ketchup and mustard should be classified as vegetables for school lunch programs. This is censorship and doublespeak. As for what should replace these terms?
In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.
Which means that every community in America can define its own reality. Your community doesn't like climate change? Then it doesn't exist. You oppose diversity? Why, feel free to discriminate. Or marginalize transgender citizens. Want to write a curriculum for your school district? No need to make it either evidence or science-based.

Can you say America Last in education and First in dirty air?

For all of their talk about allowing the invisible hand of the market a free reign, the Republicans certainly are afraid that Americans might make decisions based on science or any other information available to them. Fortunately, most Americans do not approve of the president or his policies, including this massive tax cut for the wealthy. And most Alabamans saw through the ridiculous argument that the state needed a fanatical pedophile to represent it rather than a former prosecutor who has worked tirelessly for all state residents.

The first casualty in any war, be it with weapons or policy, is language. The GOP is trying to redefine the basic elements of democracy and knowledge with a president who speaks on a fifth grade level.

Let's define a new reality for them next November.

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