As if not uttering or writing them will make them cease to exist, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been ordered by the Trump White House not to use seven words, including "fetus", "transgender" and "diversity" as they prepare documents for next year's budget.
According to The Washington Post, the instructions came during a meeting last Thursday. The four other forbidden words are "vulnerable", "evidence-based", "science-based" and "entitlement."
In some instances, CDC analysts were given suggested phrases to use in place of the forbidden words, but in other cases there were no suggestions, The Post reported. Instead of using "evidence-based" or "science-based," the recommended phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”
Interviewed by The Post, a longtime CDC analyst who writes descriptions of the CDC’s work for the budget, could not recall a previous time when words were banned from budget documents because they were considered controversial.
The reaction of people in the meeting was “incredulous,” the analyst said. “It was very much, ‘Are you serious? Are you kidding?’ In my experience, we’ve never had any pushback from an ideological standpoint.”
If, indeed, that is the policy, I would think it will be a bit difficult to enforce. Career CDC scientists and subject matter experts with integrity are not likely to give in easily to political pressure. Moreover, some of the agencies within the CDC have specific responsibilities dealing with some of those banned terms, so it will be difficult to write about them without using the words.
As The Post reported, the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention is working on ways to prevent HIV among transgender people and reduce health disparities. How are they supposed to report on that work without using the forbidden term "transgender?"
The CDC’s work on birth defects caused by the Zika virus includes research on the developing fetus. How are they supposed to report on that work without using the forbidden term "fetus?"
The thing is that federal agencies must submit their budget proposals to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which has authority about what is included.and which is a highly political arm of the White House. So OMB non-scientists will probably be editing those documents to satisfy Trump or whoever else in the administration dreamed up this ridiculous edict.
Certainly, the attempt to ban those terms reflects the Trump administration's attitudes regarding all of the areas that they cover. It is an idiotic effort and simply demonstrates the utter stupidity of some of the Trump political hacks who are in charge.