Posted by: minnow | December 18, 2017

Banning Words? Seriously?

45 and friends have turned our world on its head. Sometimes they seem hell-bent on throwing us off balance simply because they can.  Other times their smoke and mirrors, card tricks, and vaudeville act is simply a distraction from more sinister activities. They banned certain people from entering the country (mostly Muslims). They tried banning transgender people from serving in the military though the courts have temporarily blocked them. Back in February they blocked certain media outlets–CNN, The New York TimesPolitico, the BBC and others–from specific White House news briefings.  They believed they can create their own facts and now they think they can control language.

Friday’s announcement is not the first attempt by the administration to control what government agencies can and cannot say. Back in March the Department of Energy’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy was told to refrain from using: climate change, emissions reduction, and Paris agreement, in any official communication.  It was claimed then that this was not “official” but the word science was also removed from the EPA’s mission statement and the administration ordered a temporary media blackout at the agency. To avoid further inquiries, perhaps? On Friday, officials informed the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) they should not use the following words and phrases: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based, in their official communication.

Immediately social media irrupted! CENSORSHIP!  How dare they?!

Deep breath, let me remind you–censorship is not a vile concept. The censorship of certain words and phrases has long been a part of polite society. Of course, it was usually limited to vulgar jokes, slang, and profanity. And, these were regulated by an unwritten though time honored code which was well known and generally accepted. But, with the development of radio, film, and television for entertainment the FCC created a profanity list–words deemed too offensive to be heard on public airways. Eventually movies, television, and music began to receive ratings so viewers and listeners could be warned about their content yet still choose to view or listen to them if they wanted. Daytime and prime time TV (when most families and children watch) were “protected” from inappropriate language and images by FCC regulations. Generally, the public asked for or was consulted before these restrictions were implemented. Some protested, of course, but most people felt served.

We don’t need to be geniuses to realize the words on the list to the CDC and the 4-letter variety we typically censor on our own differ considerably. Two things about banning this list: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based, are especially disturbing. Consider what banning these words says about our current administration, the GOP, and perhaps a much larger part of society then we want to admit. What possible reason would a government agency not want to talk about evidence-based research, vulnerable groups of people, or the impact of a given situation on a developing fetus or the transgender community? My second concern was actually raised by The New York Times. Their attempt to address the question I just raised was to indicate that the authorities they spoke to suggested the word ban is not so much about how scientists at the CDC should conduct their work but rather about how they should word their requests for funding from Congress.

WHAT THE…WHAT? Seriously folks, if that explanation doesn’t grab your attention it is time to take your pulse.

The New York Times is reporting that officials at the CDC are nervous about the wording of their funding requests. The CDC is afraid if their research requests sound too science-based, they might be denied by Congress or thwarted by the administration. In other words, they are being coached to dumb-down their requests and avoid certain buzz words because those words are controversial red flags for the powers that hold the purse strings.

Public Service Agencies should not be self-censoring their research language because they fear the people who control Washington! Not only does communication become more difficult within the government but it interferes with their ability to serve the public. When the public isn’t given correct information the public is left at risk. If the CDC can’t tell us how the Zika virus effects a fetus or what people groups are vulnerable we have a serious health problem.

I’m angered by danger of censorship. But the issue facing us in this hour goes beyond censorship. Government agencies with the swore duty to protect the welfare of the American people feel intimidated and threatened by the very government which employs them. Let that sink in.

The people these agencies serve–we, the American people–must send the bullies home. We cannot afford the narrow minded worldview of a few wealthy self-righteous Republicans to threaten the security of our whole society.

We must demand our representatives represent the people who elected them and not their own self interests or the interests of their wealthy donors. OR, we must replace them!

Every single one of us is at risk. If not from the misinformation perpetuated by language censors, then  because of the massive tax cut which benefit the top 1% permanently but will phase out for the middle class. And if not from the tax cuts per se, then we’ll be hurt by the hit to healthcare which is also buried in the GOP tax scheme, or their refusal to defend net neutrality, or their plan to come after Social Security and Medicare in order to bring down the deficit their tax cuts just increased by more than a trillion dollars.

Please, please, see the writing on the wall. This isn’t fake news but it’s starting to look an awful lot like Orwell’s 1984. We must become engaged–2018 elections are right around the corner! Find a candidate you can trust–and VOTE! Tell your neighbors to vote! Change what’s happening in Washington!

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