Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength”
Those are the three overarching slogans in George Orwell’s classic novel, 1984.
I’m rereading it because that was the first thing I thought of when it was announced that the Trump administration had banned certain words in agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services as they prepared their 2018 budget.
By the way you can get the book free for your Kindle at Amazon if you’re a member of Kindle Unlimited, and at various other sites just by googling: 1984 free
Seven banned words
According to Reuters, “…one of the agencies, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was given a list of seven prohibited words or phrases: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
The same article reported that the Administration told “Officials at a second agency were also told to use “Obamacare” instead of the Affordable Care Act to describe President Barack Obama’s 2010 healthcare law and to use “exchanges” instead of “marketplaces” in reference to venues where people can buy federally subsidized health insurance, the Post reported.”
Apparently, according tot he article, “sex education'” is to be replaced with “sexual risk avoidance.” over at the State Department.
Fortunately the article also reported that the Health and Human Service agencies had “pushed back,”
Of course, unfortunately this is not the first attempt of the current administration to curtail certain words. Consider “The New York Times October 20, 2017 report that included: “A new analysis made public on Friday found that an E.P.A. website has been scrubbed of scores of links to materials to help local officials prepare for a world of rising temperatures and more severe storms. […]
Among the now-missing pages are those detailing the risks of climate change and the different approaches states are taking to curb emissions. Also edited out were examples of statewide plans to adapt to weather extremes.” This was reported in SNOPES, a site regarded as trustworthy by many.
Who defends such restrictions on language?
So I went looking for statements from those who defend such restrictions. It’s pretty sparse, even though the proclamation was made three days ago, on Dec. 15, 2017.
Business Insider reports “..one former federal official told The New York Times. “They’re saying not to use it in your request for money because it will hurt you.” Which is plenty scary imo.
I didn’t find anything on Town Hall except the CDC’s rather frantic explanation that there were no banned words – I paraphrase.
I thought Brightbart and was greeted with something perhaps even worse, Trump Administration Removes ‘Climate Change’ from List of National Security Threats but after reading that (sigh) was unable to find a reference to the words banned for the CDC, etc.
Of course, I’d like to think conservatives also find this banning of words and science beyond the pale.
As a writer and a citizen I’m horrified
As a writer and a citizen I’m horrified at many things the current administration has done. Most of them are pretty honest disagreements with the Trump / Conservative agenda.
Banning words is different it seems to me. I consider it a real attack on both science and the First Amendment, which reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Yeah, I recognize that these “adjustments” to bureaucratic vocabulary are not laws, but the thinking that allows this kind of hiding or changing or avoiding certain concepts is, I would guess, the first step to dumping the First Amendment altogether. It must not happen!
What to do?
It’s always puzzling to me what to do when I disagree with the government. I am going to call congress. I’m in California which is a pretty liberal state. My representatives need to know how alarmed I am by this. I think yours do too. That’s a start. You can look up your congress members here. I think they all have local offices – a google query or two will get you those numbers.
I’d love to get your thoughts in comments – particularly if you don’t agree with me.
Write well and often,