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Journalistic Amnesty and The Society for Professional Journalists

16 Dec

As noted in a recent post on The Culture and Media Institutes website, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Diversity Committee has announced they are launching a campaign to educate journalists about the hurtfulness of phrases like “illegal immigrant,” which is the term currently preferred by the influential AP Stylebook.

The phrase “illegal Immigrant”  perfectly describes those people who have entered and settled in this country without abiding by our immigration laws and have willfully evaded the legal process. I am unclear on how this phrase is hurtful and I am certain  that if we were to use a synonymous phrase like “unlawful settler” or “criminal incomer” it would not be more or less hurtful. However the SPJ’s Diversity Committee does not recommend a synonymous phrase, they wish to twist the language, to control the narrative, to use phraseology which would grant journalistic amnesty to those “illicit aliens”.

The SPJ’s Diversity Committeee insists that because in America the legal system presumes that one is innocent until proven guilty, journalist use the phrase “undocumented immigrant”.  “Undocumented” is not the same as illegal, it is a word that falls short of defining the situation and is intentionally ambiguous. It implies that “undocumented immigrants” are not necessarily illegal. In a sane world this is not troubling and a quick verification process would settle the issue but in our current environment where any suggestion to produce documentation is equated to the Nazi  demand to see your papers the end result is amnesty. Undocumented immigrants are innocent until proven guilty and only a racist nazi would insult them by demanding they produce documentation.

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