The AP Says No More 'Homophobia," 'Islamophobia,' or 'Ethnic Cleansing'

Illustration for article titled The AP Says No More 'Homophobia," 'Islamophobia,' or 'Ethnic Cleansing'

In the past few months, the AP has removed homophobia, Islamophobia, and ethnic cleansing from their Style Book, explaining that "'-phobia,' 'an irrational, uncontrollable fear, often a form of mental illness' should not be used 'in political or social contexts,' including 'homophobia' and 'Islamophobia.' It also calls 'ethnic cleansing' a 'euphemism,' and says the AP 'does not use 'ethnic cleansing' on its own. It must be enclosed in quotes, attributed and explained.'"

Interesting. However, a commenter on Politico points out that "[t]his is completely wrong. They have confused the WORD "phobia" with the SUFFIX '-phobia'. The word "phobia" is just what they said: a technical term denoting an extreme, debilitating fear. The suffix '-phobia', on the other hand is much broader. It can mean not just fear of, but also dislike of, aversion to, prejudice against, having a really bad (physical) reaction to, etc. Consider 'Anglophobia', 'Francophobia', 'hydrophobia', photophobia, etc. It has become an all-purpose (suffix) antonym to '-philia'. (bibliophilia, bibliophobia)." Hmm...

"When you break down 'ethnic cleansing,' it's a cover for terrible violent activities. It's a term we certainly don't want to propgate," [AP Deputy Standards Editor Dave] 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."

"We want to be precise and accurate and neutral in our phrasing," he said.

I'm not sure about all this. I feel like those words conjure the truth of what they are describing, and I'm afraid that introducing new terms could muddy the waters even more. However, agreed that "ethnic cleansing" could be a much more revolting term — but what? Let's see... mis is the prefix for hate — maybe Mislamism? That doesn't work. I like Heteronormative Bias, but don't think it's specific enough.


Another commenter on Politico suggests 'Straight Supremacists," for people who are anti-LGBT, I like that but is it a little confusing? Also, for 'Islamophobes — what about just, like, "straight-up confused bigot dummies?" And for ethnic cleansing... hmm, what about GENOCIDE. Catchy enough?

AP nixes 'homophobia', 'ethnic cleansing'

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Better word than homophobia: heterosexism

Better word than transphobia: cissexism

Better word than biphobia: monosexism (which has the added benefit of covering non-monosexuals who don't identify as bisexual)

Not sure about a better word than Islamophobia... Western supremacist? Help?