I Have A Doubleplusgood Idea for the CDC

So apparently the Trump administration has issued a list of 7 words that the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are not allowed to use in their budget documents for next year:

  • diversity
  • fetus
  • transgender
  • vulnerable
  • entitlement
  • science-based
  • evidence-based

The head of the agency claims these words aren’t “banned” and a representative from the Department of Health and Human Services said that it was just “guidance” to not use the words and that proposals would more like to be funded if you didn’t use the words. So, sure go ahead and use those words and then your work won’t get funded, which makes them essentially banned.

Naturally, there have been lots of people noticing the similarity to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four. In that book, the totalitarian government has instituted a language called Newspeak:

“Newspeak is a controlled language, of restricted grammar and limited vocabulary, a linguistic design meant to limit the freedom of thought—personal identity, self-expression, free will—that ideologically threatens the regime” (Source: Wikipedia)

Seems pretty on the nose for the situation here. The administration wants to clamp down women’s reproductive rights, so ban the use of the word “fetus”. Don’t want appropriate healthcare for those most in need, then ban the word “vulnerable”. Hate that science gets in the way of you doing whatever you want to do based on ideology and/or your ability to make a profit? Then “evidence-based” and “science-based” have to go!

I’m pretty sure that Trump has never heard of a dictionary or a thesaurus before, so I feel like the scientists of the CDC should come up with every synonym they can for these words. Here’s a few suggestions to get them started:

Instead of: Try this:
diversity multiculturalism, heterogeneity of _____ (e.g,. cultures, race, religions, national origin, sexual and/or gender identities, etc. depending on the specific context), diverse groups, variety of _____, inclusiveness of ____,”inclusion of individuals from more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc.” (Source).
fetus foetus (British spelling), fetal being, post-embryo, the young of an animal in the womb or egg, especially in the later stages of development when the body structures are in therecognizable form of its kind, in humans after the end of the second month of gestation.”(Source),
transgender people with “a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their assigned sex” (Source)
vulnerable marginalized, threatened, people who have traditionally been unheard and mistreated, at increased risk, those experiencing vulnerability, vincible
entitlement rights, enfranchisement, social programs, “the right to guaranteed benefits under a government program, as Social Security or unemployment compensation.” (Source)
evidence-based, science-based based on evidence, based on science, research-based, fact-based, supported by evidence, supported by science, supported by research, based on scientific evidence

Of course, I realize that this isn’t actually a viable solution – if the powers-that-be are going to reject proposals that contain the seven words, it means they are going to reject things that are related to that concept. It’s actually quite unbelievable that the organization that is responsible to “protect public health and safety through the control and prevention of disease, injury, and disability in the US and internationally” (Source) is being preventing for dealing with issues that are core to their work. My heart goes out to all the people working at the CDC who have to work in such toxic conditions and to all the people around the world whose health and lives will be negatively impacted by the effect this will have on the CDC’s ability to carry out its work. Welcome to 1984 2018.