A phrase I often use is: “He who defines the words, often wins the debate.” I have seen this play out in debates, discussions, and interviews. I have also seen how the way you define terms can influence the reader’s perception. That is why the latest information about the style guides being used in the media is a reminder to exercise discernment.
Take the issue of climate change, or what used to be called global warming. That change alone should signal the fact that words and definitions are being manipulated so that readers would come to a particular conclusion.
The Guardian recently updated its style guide in order to show their increased concern over the environment. For example, “climate change” will now be referred to as a “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown.” The term “global warming” doesn’t seem hot enough, so it will now be called “global heating.” And a skeptic of all of this will now be called a “climate science denier.”
Abortion is another illustration. For years, I have complained that the terms are not parallel. Someone who supports abortion is not called “pro-abortion” but is given the more neutral term “pro-choice.” However, you can’t call someone “pro-life” because they must be labeled “anti-abortion.”
Jarrett Stepman reports that NPR has now told its reporters that certain words are off limits. That would be the terms, pro-life, late-term abortion, fetal heartbeat, and partial birth. Then you might wonder what you are supposed to call a partial-birth abortion. The term of choice is “intact dilation and extraction.” I doubt anyone outside the medical field even knows what that means. Also off limits are terms like “abortion doctor” and “abortion clinics.”
These changes seem aimed at trying to obscure what happens in abortion clinics and manipulate language that will disguise what abortion really is.