Monday, December 18, 2017

From Orwell to Trump in seven scary words

On 15th December the Washington Post published a story which claimed that the Trump administration had issued to the Centers for Disease Control a list of seven forbidden words that were henceforth not to be used when drawing up budget proposals. The story was sourced from one anonymous CDC employee who was at a meeting where the banned vocab list was discussed. The words are: vulnerable, diversity, entitlement, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based.


It would be hard to find a list of words better crafted to enrage the former Studio 54 dandy and his army of white-supremacist, Bible-thumping acolytes. We already know, having been reminded daily for well over a year now, how that crowd feels about facts and science, diversity and the transgendered and the vulnerable. Entitlement would probably be OK if we stuck with the entitlement of the rich to greater riches, but let's not take any chances - you wouldn't want the vulnerable to get the idea they're entitled to something too.

I must admit "fetus" is a bit of a head-scratcher. What have those folks got against fetuses? Maybe the anonymous source mis-heard?  Maybe the meeting was running into the lunch hour and one of the attendees wondered aloud "are they gonna feed us?" Who knows...

A mere three days later, if you google "CDC 7 banned words list" you'll get over 2.6 million results in about half a second. An awful lot of folks have spilled an awful lot of ink over this story in three days. By contrast, google "George Carlin's 7 banned words list" and you get less than half that many results on a story that's been around for 45 years.

And not only has it been around; it's been an iconic pit-stop in this thing known as "popular culture."

Meanwhile, both the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services have denied that any such list exists, and the fact-checking site Snopes is awaiting some clarifications before rendering a verdict.

But for three days, it's been one helluva story!

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