The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services made it clear last month that to ensure their funding stream, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is best advised to avoid 7 words in their vocabulary: “fetus,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “vulnerable,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based.”
Really? Come on now, folks. There is simply no excuse for asking anyone to “tone down” their documents by erasing parts of the English language. Some call this a “ban”, while others term it a “recommendation”. Either way, it’s simply “very problematic.”
Of course, none of us can tolerate censorship of our work. And those of us dealing with critical social issues — such as healthcare or human rights or the environmental crisis or poverty — need every word at our disposal to help us make the world a better place. Even in business writing, which is often thought of as dry and painful, we writers have the right to express ourselves fully (creatively, even).
I was heartened to read about The Human Rights Campaign’s response to the Trump Administration’s dictate; the organization projected all 7 words onto the entrance to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, along with the words “we will not be erased.”
As writers, let’s instead use our erasers (or delete buttons) to make sure our words are clear, concise, and meaningful: to say whatever needs to be said, no matter what.