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Seven Dirty Words - Censoring the Wrong People


When I first heard the story, I figured it had to be a joke—a satiric spin on the news, like the ones I like to write on “The Other News” page of my blog. I was even annoyed that someone had beaten me to the idea.

The CNN headline reads, “White House bans CDC from using 7 words”.

It sounded at first like a snarky updating of George Carlin’s 7 Words You Can’t Say on TV. And then I found out that the story was real.

The CNN article reads:

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the very agency tasked with saving and protecting the lives of the most vulnerable, are now under order by the Trump administration to stop using . . . seven banned words.

The words are "diversity," "fetus," "transgender," "vulnerable," "entitlement," "science-based" and "evidence-based."

Just to make sure, I wasn't dreaming, this story was reported in other news sources as well, such as The Washington Post and The New York Times.

So the same folks who condemn college students for protesting right-wing speakers such as Richard Spencer are now telling scientists what words they can and can’t use in their work.

Of course, according to a spokesman from the Health and Human Services Department, this isn’t true:

The assertion that HHS has 'banned words' is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process. HHS will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans. HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.

Can anyone explain what that actually means?

And while we’re at it, can we ban one form of speech, by silencing all the spokespeople? Let’s just get rid of them all.

Take White House Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a human obfuscation machine, whose recently commented on the fifth anniversary of the horrific Sandy Hook school shooting:

Look, I think that there are a number of different ways that we look to protect our citizens. Every single day, one of the areas that the President has been outspoken about — not necessarily to those two instances — but just more broadly speaking in terms of national security and protecting individuals certainly through border security, stronger vetting processes, and looking at whether or not there are other regulations that we could put in place that would offer protection—

Forget even the incomplete sentences and Palinesque grammar, this is pure spin and the essence of not even addressing the question that has been asked.

Finally, consider AshLee Strong, Spokeswoman for Speaker Paul D. Ryan, talking about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election:

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is conducting a thorough and professional investigation into Russian meddling and is following the facts wherever they may lead.

I’m a great believer in free speech, but if we could remove that right from political spokespeople, we might get closer to some clarity. Maybe instead of the HHS spin on the CDC list of forbidden words, someone could honestly state, “Yes, we did it because the use of scientific facts gets in the way of our agenda.”

In the case of Sarah Huckabee Sanders and AshLee Strong, is the charade even necessary? Given what we know about their bosses’ political agendas, isn’t it evident what they really mean—“We don’t want to do anything that will antagonize our donors and/or complicate our party’s electoral process.”

I'm wondering if the inept roll-out of the CDC word ban might cause the two or three slightly more rational folks in the administration to prevail and walk-back this ridiculous directive. But the damage was done well before this news was ever reported. From the beginning, the administration, abetted by allies in Congress, the media, and the evangelical movement, turned its back on evidence and facts. The strategy of lie-spin-censor-implement has proven to be a consistent technique for such policies as climate change, taxation, and immigration. Stay tuned for more.

The administration is silencing the experts and letting its spokespeople run wild. Does anyone else think we’re silencing the wrong people?

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