Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Associated Press doesn't like the word "homophobia"

The Associated Press Stylebook, which most U.S. papers utilize as a usage guide, now frowns upon the use of the term "homophobia," with editors saying it amounts to a diagnosis of mental illness.

“It’s just off the mark,” AP deputy standards editor Dave Minthorn told Politico. “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: antigay, or some such, if we had reason to believe that was the case.”

The online version of the stylebook has recently added language saying writers and editors should not use “phobia” words such as “homophobia” and “Islamophobia” in “political or social contexts,” and next year’s print edition will include it as well, Politico reports.

George Weinberg, the psychologist who coined the word “homophobia” in his 1972 book Society and the Healthy Homosexual, said he disagreed with the AP’s decision.

“I just want to go on record as disagreeing with the AP’s decision not to use ‘homophobia,’ the word. I am a psychologist and author who coined the word a long time ago. It made all the difference to City Councils and other people I spoke to. It encapsulates a whole point of view and of feeling. It was a hard-won word, as you can imagine. It brought me some death threats. Is homophobia always based on fear? I thought so and still think so. Maybe envy in some cases. But that’s a psychological question. Is every snarling dog afraid? Probably yes. But here it shouldn’t matter. We have no other word for what we’re talking about, and this one is well established. We use ‘freelance’ for writers who don’t throw lances anymore, and who want to get paid for their work. Fowler even allows us to mix what he called dead metaphors. It seems curious that this word is getting such scrutiny while words like triskaidekaphobia (the fear of the number 13) hangs around.”

(source)
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