Restricting vocabulary underscores the cultural war

The Washington Post reports (By Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilperin, December 16) that the Trump administration has informed multiple divisions within the Department of Health and Human Services that they should avoid using specific words or phrases in official documents being drafted for next year’s budget.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is part of HHS, were given a list of seven prohibited words or phrases during a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget. The words to avoid: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

A second HHS agency received similar guidance to avoid using “entitlement,” “diversity” and “vulnerable,” according to an official who took part in a briefing earlier in the week. Participants at that agency were also told to use “Obamacare” instead of ACA, or the Affordable Care Act, and to use “exchanges” instead of “marketplaces” to describe the venues where people can purchase health insurance.

At the State Department, meanwhile, certain documents now refer to sex education as “sexual risk avoidance.”

As the news of restricting vocabulary broke Saturday morning a creepy, unsettling feeling ran through my body. Surely taking control of the language is a significant step in over-throwing society and the government.Then I looked at the seven words.  If the CDC can’t use these words in the budget or in materials they give to Congress, it suggests no funding for research that study access to abortion, birth defects, STIs, racial/gender disparities in healthcare, medical issues affecting transgender people, “vulnerable” people, or anything the CDC is supposed to study. Removing words like “evidence-based” and “science-based” undercuts the authority of the institution.

Vulnerable is likely omitted because it refers to populations of people who are generally demonized by the far right (minorities, people who don’t fit the typical male or female gender roles, and of course the poor).

Entitlement seems to suggest that people are automatically subject to specific treatment or benefits because they are human- if particular populations are labeled as unentitled, then they can be denied services that others get. In other words, they can be subject to discrimination.

Diversity is likely omitted because the far right likes to demonize people who are not like them. They see diversity as the problem, not a benefit.

Transgender – in western society no group of people is more persecuted than trans-genders. This is the result of the false male-female dichotomy pervasive in Judeo-Christian cultures. If you think an individual can only be male and female – what happens when you find individuals who don’t fit into your artificial categories?

Fetus is obviously a flash point term with the “pro-life” crowd. They would undoubtedly like developing eggs (zygotes), embryos, and fetus to be called babies or children. This idea goes back to the idea that something magical happens when a sperm cell fertilizes an egg cell – the zygote becomes a human. Of course. it is not magic, but it is a lot of biology and biochemistry. Concepts that the far right want to ignore

Evidence-based is a term that suggests you are making a decision using rational thought, using cause and effect.

Science-based, like evidence-based, means some experiments have been done to suggest the best way to solve a problem.

This comes several months after the Department of Agriculture was told to remove the term climate change from its website along with the other scary phrase – “reduce greenhouse gases.”

Far-right claims liberals and democrats are elitists. It because they are often ignorant, uneducated, and have a belief system based on pre-scientific principals that are long out of date.

Trump and the far rights’ cultural war on science and rational thought are not new. The ignorance of the far-right spread to the entire country makes them easy to manipulate. Expansion of these crack-pot ideas means a lesser quality of life for everyone. Discrediting vaccines, antibiotics, the concept of the germ theory of disease, and evolution and other scientific advancements mean poor health for the masses, a poor quality food supply, and a society in decline. Resist. We don’t want a return to the Dark Ages.


Vertebrate embryos are similar in appearance at early stages of development because they share a common ancestor and many of the same regulatory genes that control development.