The AP Won't Let You Call 'Homophobia' Homophobia

Alexander Abad-Santos
The Atlantic Wire
The AP Won't Let You Call 'Homophobia' Homophobia

So ... if Tracy Morgan goes on a rant again and tells people that he'd stab and kill his son for being gay, the AP will just call it "anti-gay." And forget about "ethnic cleansing" and "Islamophobia" — those won't exist in the new stylebook either. 

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The new decisions are, according to Politico's Dylan Byers, set to go into effect next year and are part of the AP's ongoing goal of being neutral. "We want to be precise and accurate and neutral in our phrasing," AP Deputy Standards Editor Dave Minthorn told Byers. And while homophobia, in the non-journalist world, might seem like an appropriate thing to ascribe to someone like the Salvation Army official who said that gay people "deserve death," or that North Carolina pastor who said gays need to be penned up behind electric fences and left to die, it also, in the AP's eyes, pathologizes bigotry. People aren't born bigoted, and journalists aren't doctors. "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," Minthorn added.

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But "anti-anything" just seems a little tame to ascribe to someone who calls for violence against another human being — so by no means call that ethnic cleansing. "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," Minthorn added.