Amid pandemic, CDC issues ‘inclusive’ language guide discouraging terms like ‘inmate’

The Centers for Disease Control have published a new guide to using more “inclusive” language for healthcare providers, discouraging a number of “non inclusive” terminology.

The guide, published in the name of “health equity” and “inclusive communication” goes on to state, “Language in communication products should reflect and speak to the needs of people in the audience of focus.”  The guide states that “[existing terminology is] vague and implies that the condition is inherent to the group rather than the actual causal factors.  Consider using terms and language that focus on the systems in place and explain why and/or how some groups are more affected than others. Also try to use language that explains the effect (i.e., words such as impact and burden are also vague and should be explained).”

One of the sections, for “Corrections & Detentions” suggests replacing “offensive” and “dehumanizing” terms such as “Inmate,” “Prisoner,” “Convict/ex-convict,” and “Criminal” with “inclusive” terms such as “People/persons,” “Persons in pre-trial or with charge,” “Persons on parole or probation,” or “People in immigration detention facilities.”

Some commenters on Twitter noted that one of the forbidden terms to be replaced was the word “elderly”:

Other sections of the guide run the gamut of politically correct language, suggesting replacements for such concepts and terms as “Disability,” “Drug/Substance Abuse,” “Healthcare Access & Access to Services and Resources,” “Homelessness,” “Lower Socioeconomic Status,” “Mental Health / Behavioral Health,” “Non-U.S.-born Persons / Immigration Status,” “Older Adults,” “People Who are at Increased / Higher Risk,” “Race & Ethnicity,” “Rural,” and “Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity.”

Other parts of the guide read like a social justice guideline for inserting race and identity politics into health care, suggesting that healthcare providers “Consider the context and the audience to determine if language used could potentially lead to negative assumptions, stereotyping, stigmatization, or blame.”  The CDC has increasingly branched out into not strictly-medical territory, such as its eviction moratorium “order,” a trend noticed by some commentators:

One commenter, “mrshart20,” noted on the Fox News website, “The CDC is overstepping the parameters of their purpose. If they can’t stay focused on the job they are intended to perform, it’s would indicate that they are extremely over staffed or extremely over funded.”

The guide comes amidst the CDC’s other public controversies cast doubts upon its credibility.  The alleged use of highly flawed infection data for “breakthrough” Covid-19 infections (infections that are severe or even fatal in spite of mitigating factors such as vaccination or other treatments) in order to make poorly informed major decisions, or even deliberately distort the numbers to drive a preferred narrative.


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