Associated Press Opts Out of Smearing Conservatives as ‘Homophobic’
November 30, 2012
From National Review Online’s Charles Cooke I learn that the Associated Press will no longer use the term “homophobia”:
Homophobia especially — it’s just off the mark. It’s ascribing a mental disability to someone . . . .
I agree. I have been concerned for some time (see, e.g., here, here, and here) about poisonous attempts to silence one’s opponents or delegitimize dissent. Yes, those attempts overwhelmingly come from the left. “Homophobia”, for example, implies that only a pathological, irrational fear could explain holding on to the traditional understanding of marriage when a novel understanding has come into vogue. (If you can’t see that this is a problem overwhelmingly of the left, perhaps you could remind me what equivalent term the right uses to delegitimize the other side of this issue?)
The Associated Press’s November announcement that it will cease conflating “phobia” and “criticism” is a welcome one, and both other news outlets and the general public would do well to follow its example. . . .
Liberals’ reactions have been mixed. On the one hand, America Blog Gay criticizes the AP’s decision, but along the way basically concedes my point:
I don’t know anyone who uses the term “homophobia” to mean that someone is clinically insane, or mentally unstable, or whatever other pretzel AP would like to tie itself into over this word. Having said that . . . to call the fear of gays and our civil rights “irrational,” and based on an “uncontrollable fear,” strikes me as spot on.
In other words, By using the term “homophobia”, we’re not literally accusing all who disagree with us of pathological, irrational fear, but we should!
The entry also quotes George Weinberg, apparently the one who invented the term “homophobia” (in 1972), who basically says that people shouldn’t stop using the term to silence their opponents, because it works (“It made all the difference . . .”).
I don’t like the word myself. There’s a smugness to it that doesn’t sit well with me.