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The Associated Press removes the word ‘homophobia’ from its Style Book

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  1. I’d love to know what they are going to use instead.

    I can’t help thinking there is more to this than there first appears. Homophobia has now got a widely understood meaning. The meaning of words can change with usage. I don’t think anyone who uses the word currently means a mental illness. They do mean irrational.

    1. It says in the article if you read. They are going to use anti-gay.

    2. “I’d love to know what they are going to use instead.”

      Apparently they suggest anti-gay, but that is an adjective, not a noun and there is no single noun that would correspond to it; the closest expression would be “anti-gay bigot.”

      The AP might suggest “heterosexism,” but that word does not convey the emotional aspect of homophobia, i.e. the disgust, hatred or fear, which is very real and without which anti-gay violence cannot be understood.

      Properly speaking, “heterosexism,” like “sexism,” refers not to emotions but to intellectual judgments like stereotyping, forgetfulness, indifference, smugness or condescension.

      Unless the AP also deprecates “xenophobia,” this change seems to be motivated by heterosexism as opposed to linguistic precision.

  2. Idiotic decision by philistine journos. The “phobia” suffix has been used in social or political contexts for a long time. Apart from pathological fear, it’s also used, without inciting any controversy, to refer to bigotry. ‘Xenophobia’, ‘anglophobia’ and ‘francophobia’, for example, have been in use without inciting any controversy for a while, though none of those terms denote fear or pathology.

  3. “i hate the word homophobia. it’s not a phobia. you’re not scared, you’re just an asshole” – attributed (on twitter recently)to morgan freeman

    1. Don’t know who attributed it to Morgan Freeman. It was said by Jón Gnarr, Mayor of Reykjavik.

      1. It was around on the internet well before Gnarr used it. George Takei shared it on his facebook page several weeks – maybe months – ago.

      2. That was reported a while after Feeman’s use

      3. “The trouble with quotes on the Internet is that you can never know if they are genuine.” — Abraham Lincoln

  4. change it to bigot !

  5. This is weak-willed and weak-minded caving to bigots.

    The word “homophobic” clearly conveys that the anti-gay behaviour in question is irrational. That’s why bigots hate the word and want to get rid of it. They want to claim that anti-gay behaviour is reasonable and that the word “homophobic” is never accurate.

    I rarely describe anti-gay campaigners as homophobic because I’m generally less interested in their motivations than in their actions. But the word is still essential for journalists, particularly in relation to hate crime, and for AP to try to remove it from their reporting and that of others is both insidious and craven.

  6. Okay fine, I will no longer refer to them as homophobes but as anti-gay arseholes.

    1. anti-gay arsehole bigots.

      1. Why not! although homophobia seems to perfectly encapsulate the plethora of fears that are constantly being manufactured and expressed about homosexuality by anti gay bigots. So homophobic anti-gay bigot arseholes probably covers it.

        1. AP won’t allow the word arsehole to be used.

  7. The meaning of words is defined by their usage, not their etymology. Homophobic clearly means prejudiced against gay people and is the equivalent of racist and sexist. The term anti-gay is a political tem used by the right who wish to imply that it is a valid political position to be against gay rights.

    1. Many homophobes dislike the use of the word gay to mean homosexuals, they are always saying it’s been hijacked, I mean what is a person who is anti-gay? is he against bright colours and anything cheerful?

  8. Cardinal Capone 27 Nov 2012, 11:47am

    Did they get steeplejacked? ;)

  9. Most often the word homophobia is used to avoid the term ‘religious bigot’

    1. Or, homophobic-anti-gay-religious-extremist-bigot-arsehole.

  10. Robert White 27 Nov 2012, 12:12pm

    What, they innevitably ask, would a homophobe be afraid of?

    The answer is tricky but obvious. The homophobe is afraid that there are people out there that are willing to think of and treat him (the homophobe) as badly as he treats women.

    Listen to a homophobe rant. Whether he is upset that some evil “they” will watch him shower (violate his privacy) or try to trick or coerce him into sex (date rape) or whatever, it’s all about things you can immediately see that person doing to some woman.

    Someone who thinks of women as lessor beings to act out uppon and marginalize will atuomatically fear that there is a man who would do the same to them sice they would see him “as the woman”.

    What is the number-one refrane of kind of ignorance? “which one of you is the chick?” etc.

    I have never yet met a homophobe that didn’t have a particular “place” where women “belonged”. Whether it was in a sack in the ground, of cleaving _sliently_ unto and obeying her husband as required by “scripture”.

    1. What you say makes a lot of sense. I once read (in the Guardian, I think) that homophobia was the bastard offspring of misogyny.

    2. Homophobia can also reflect a fear that one is, oneself, homosexual. Exhibit A: the homophobes of the Christian and political Right who are eventually found tapping their feet in airport men’s rooms, hiring boy prostitutes to “carry luggage”, and claiming with a “straight” face that homosexuals would be better off in heterosexual marriages.

  11. So that means the Associated Press is phobiaphobic.


  12. Interesting to hear the arguments for and against. I have to say I thought ‘homophobia’, if sometimes overused, was perfectly functional still.

    As an aside, I have to agree with the removal of ‘ethnic cleansing’ which is a repulsive term and now used far too often without quotation marks around it.

  13. “Lawrence Heinen · Harvard University
    This is completely wrong. They have confused the WORD “phobia” with the SUFFIX “-phobia”. The word “phobia” is just what they said: a technical term denoting an extreme, debilitating fear. The suffix “-phobia”, on the other hand is much broader. It can mean not just fear of, but also dislike of, aversion to, prejudice against, having a really bad (physical) reaction to, etc. Consider “Anglophobia”, “Francophobia”, “hydrophobia”, photophobia, etc. It has become an all-purpose (suffix) antonym to “-philia” (bibliophilia, bibliophobia).”

  14. ...Paddyswurds 27 Nov 2012, 1:48pm

    Who cares what AP does with its “style book”. AP are yesterdays bad smell and are hardly as relevant as they were or at least thought they were. Homophobe will continue in general use and as people become more enlightened and accepting, it will become even more relevant to those who continues to be homophobically bigoted like those at AP…..

    1. AP story writers follow the style book — so the “style” will appear in many news articles picked up from the AP. So it will affect reportage though not, as you say, general usage.

  15. Robert in S. Kensington 27 Nov 2012, 1:55pm

    So does this mean that the adjective
    ‘homophobic’ would also have to be removed for the sake of consistency? I disagree with the decision by the AP. ‘Anti-gay’ as a substitute is another term bigots don’t like either. Their new m.o. now is to dismiss it by saying they’re not anti-gay because they have gay friends.

    Any word ending with the suffix ‘phobia’ would therefore need to be removed, so why is homophobia being singled out? Sounds like an exercise in political correctness to me in deference to bigots of course.

    1. Yes, quite right, and before we know it journalists will be told to avoid using the term “anti-gay”! It’s all a way of sweeping our calls for justice under the carpet.

  16. So AP is saying the word “homophobia” is no longer suitable for use in social or political contexts.

    AP is being homophobic!

    And no one has to follow the declarations of the AP, do they?

    The Oxford English Dictionary defines a ‘phobia’ as:

    Fear, horror, or aversion, esp. of a morbid character. In Psychol., an abnormal and irrational fear or dread which is caused by a particular object or circumstance.

    So AP are choosing to avoid the true definition of ‘phobia’

    And the OED gives two examples:

    1786 Columbian Magazine:
    I shall begin, by defining Phobia in the present instance, to be a fear of an imaginary evil, or an undue fear of a real one.

    1801 Coleridge:
    I have a perfect phobia of inns and coffee-houses.    

  17. Homophobes are very afraid of being called homophobic. Homophobes also are very afraid to personally admit to being homophobic, as anyone who has attempted to communicate with homophobic bigots on comments boards will know.

  18. ThinkProgress issued a pathetic defence of the decision too. Not sure my comment will be approved if I upload a weblink, but take a look at the story up on the site.

  19. Something strange is happening somewhere in the AP offices, and someone with an axe to grind must have recently gained clout and influence to be able to order such an inexcusable change.

  20. Pavlos Prince of Greece 27 Nov 2012, 5:01pm

    Is it logical way from ‘-phobia’ like ‘homophobia’ to ‘anti-‘ as ‘anti-gay’ to ‘pro-‘ as ‘pro-family’? I love this idea not at all.

  21. Just another way to diminish the terror that certain gay people have to live with on a daily basis. They might as well call gay bashing , gay un liking.

  22. Homophobic and “anti-gay” are not entirely synonymous — nor equal in grammatical use (as F Young points out).

    Homophobia describes a real phenomenon and deserves to remain in use.

    If the AP (and NYT and NPR) want to embrace more accurate usage, they should make it policy to use the phrase “same-sex marriage” instead of the misnomer “gay marriage.”

  23. darkmoonman 27 Nov 2012, 9:00pm

    New Speak, 1; public, 0.

  24. Actually you could use “phobia” because it is an irrational fear:

    They fear a ‘gay agenda’
    They fear the destruction of the family
    They fear that all gays are child molesters
    They fear that gays will ‘recruit’ their children
    They fear that gays will force churches to marry them
    They fear that accepting gays will destroy society
    They fear God’s wrath for accepting homosexuality
    But above all they seek to espouse their views and cause a widespread irrational fear in the nation.

    They prey on people’s fear in order to make money and gain power by starting organisations like NoM and OMM.

    sounds like a phobia to me!

    1. If used in one of the above scenarios then “Homophobic” is the correct word to use. But since when have the media ever cared so much about “accuracy” of their reporting. Accurate is subjective anyone can object to a report and say its not true enough especially if your reacting to something someone said or did the same as another person could say that its completely accurate.

    2. They fear intimacy with the opposite sex. So they start organizations like “Queer Nation”. You seem heterophobic to us!

  25. If there’s homophobia than there’s heterophobia, or even negrophobia.
    Or is it just envy?

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