AP Stylebook urges care with term ‘riot’, offers a ‘milder and less emotional’ alternative

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The Associated Press Stylebook is recommending restrai00nt when using the word “riot” in newly issued guidance aimed at keeping protesters from being stigmatized.

The official Twitter account for the AP Stylebook announced the latest clarification on Wednesday, effectively rejecting the standard definition of the word “riot” in favor of a “milder and less emotional term” such as “unrest.”

“Use care in deciding which term best applies: A riot is a wild or violent disturbance of the peace involving a group of people. The term riot suggests uncontrolled chaos and pandemonium,” the AP Stylebook account tweeted.

“Focusing on rioting and property destruction rather than underlying grievance has been used in the past to stigmatize broad swaths of people protesting against lynching, police brutality or for racial justice, going back to the urban uprisings of the 1960s,” another tweet explained.

The politically correct direction comes as many U.S. cities have been affected by protests for months following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Despite violent demonstrations, looting, physical confrontations with law enforcement and blatant destruction of property, the left continues to insist many protests are “mostly peaceful” as the Associated Press now offered alternative verbiage to report the incidents.

“Unrest is a vaguer, milder and less emotional term for a condition of angry discontent and protest verging on revolt,” the AP tweeted.

“Protest and demonstration refer to specific actions such as marches, sit-ins, rallies or other actions meant to register dissent. They can be legal or illegal, organized or spontaneous, peaceful or violent, and involve any number of people,” another tweet explained.

“Revolt and uprising both suggest a broader political dimension or civil upheavals, a sustained period of protests or unrest against powerful groups or governing systems,” the AP continued.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “riot” as “a violent public disorder” as well as “public violence” and a “tumult.” The dictionary further noted that a riot is “a tumultuous disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons assembled together and acting with a common intent.”

All of the definitions seem to fit the scenes that have unfolded in cities like Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington following those set off in Minneapolis.

The Stylebook’s seeming attempt to control the language, and the narrative, is not new. As Minneapolis became engulfed in destructive behavior by angry mobs, the AP’s downplaying of the word “looting” was shared online.

The organization was slammed in May for guidance directing not to use “mistress” which was seen as being an “archaic and sexist term.”

The stylebook has also directed journalists to use the term “undocumented” rather than “illegal immigrant” to describe those who are in the country illegally.

The latest guidance on the term “riot” sparked a wave of criticism and mockery on Twitter.

 

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Frieda Powers

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