Words Conservatives Hate

By Garance Franke-Ruta

It's not just about promoting catchwords like the "death tax" -- Republicans have also been fighting to suppress words deemed overly liberal.

floodingShutterstock

Bisexual sustainable development activists working to prevent climate change-related sea-level rise better watch out: Just about all the preceding words have been flagged by conservatives and Republicans as liberal buzzwords that need to be stricken from public conversation, according to a spate of recent news stories.

Sure, it's a time-honored GOP practice to seek to replace a perfectly good description, such as "the estate tax," with a more inflammatory phrase, but the new fight against liberal words does not appear to be seeking to replace them with an alternative so much as to deny the existence of a thing. Three examples:

1. "Bisexual" and "transgender."

The Boston Globe reported Tuesday that Romney's administration couldn't countenance these words during his later years in office, when he was preparing for a presidential bid:

Former governor Mitt Romney's administration in 2006 blocked publication of a state antibullying guide for Massachusetts public schools because officials objected to use of the terms "bisexual'' and "transgender'' in passages about protecting certain students from harassment, according to state records and interviews with current and former state officials.

Romney aides said publicly at the time that publication of the guide had been delayed because it was a lengthy document that required further review. But an e-mail authored in May of that year by a high-ranking Department of Public Health official -- and obtained last week by the Globe through a public records request -- reflected a different reason.

"Because this is using the terms 'bisexual' and 'transgendered,' DPH's name may not be used in this publication,'' wrote the official, Alda Rego-Weathers, then the deputy commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

2. "Sea level rise" and "climate change."

The Virginian-Pilot reported Sunday that even the phrase once thought less loaded than "global warming" is now out of favor in Virginia, along with neutral descriptions of the type of water that could create flooding threats in the coastal state:

State lawmakers ran into a problem this year when recommending a study on rising sea levels and their potential impacts on coastal Virginia.

It was not a scientific problem or a financial one. It was linguistic.

They discovered that they could not use the phrases "sea level rise" or "climate change" in requesting the study, in part because of objections from Republican colleagues and also for fear of stirring up conservative activists, some of whom believe such terms are liberal code words....

State Del. Chris Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, who insisted on changing the "sea level rise" study in the General Assembly to one on "recurrent flooding," said he wants to get political speech out of the mix altogether.

He said "sea level rise" is a "left-wing term" that conjures up animosities on the right.

3. "Sustainable development."

This word hasn't been targeted directly so much as become a buzzword for an agenda the legislature of Alabama has now formally rejected. In May, it passed a law stating:

The State of Alabama and all political subdivisions may not adopt or implement policy recommendations that deliberately or inadvertently infringe or restrict private property rights without due process, as may be required by policy recommendations originating in, or traceable to "Agenda 21."

Now signed into law, "This bill, that would bar the state from taking over private property without due process, is intended to shelter Alabamians from the United Nations Agenda 21, a sustainable development initiative that some conservatives see as a precursor for the creation of a world government," Alabama GOP Executive Director T.J. Maloney said in a statement.

Know of more words conservatives have sought to strike from documents or consider buzzwords of an intolerable liberal agenda that require opposition in law? Please add them in the comments below.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/06/words-conservatives-hate/258472/