The AP Stylebook is a guide updated each year by Associated Press editors that is used by journalists across the media spectrum as a standard for grammar, punctuation and terminology. Politico reports that the newest edition of the guide will not include the term “homophobia,” among others. The reasoning given is a Godsend for us all.
The online Style Book now says that “-phobia,” “an irrational, uncontrollable fear, often a form of mental illness” should not be used “in political or social contexts,” including “homophobia” and “Islamophobia.”
This is a victory for reason in the arena of public discourse. It is not okay for journalists to characterize all disagreement with the homosexual lifestyle or with Islam as being due to “fear” or a “mental illness.” The term “phobia” strongly suggests just that. Both Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Dolan have used the term “Christophobia” in response to those who have used the term “homophobia.” While I understand use of the term “Christophobia” as an appropriate response to those who are thinking on that level, the use of the word “Christophobia” should come into disuse if “homophobia” and “Islamophobia” are no longer used. I would expect both the Vatican and Cardinal Dolan to adjust their discourse accordingly since the AP Stylebook is used by journalists and editors throughout the Western world.
Unfortunately, this does not mean the end of the Left’s ad hominem, either in journalism or elsewhere. Advocate’s article on the change in the AP Stylebook gives us a clue about the preferred ad hominem attack when “homophobia” is not used against Christians: “Bigot.”
In mainstream newspapers in the coming year, you’re a lot less likely to see bigotry against gay people described as “homophobia.”
The Advocate, however, promises that they and their sister sites will stick to the ad hominem attack “homophobia” despite the change in the AP Stylebook.
Most magazines and book publishers use a different stylebook, such as the Chicago Manual of Style, or have their own, as is the case with The Advocate and its sister publications. The Advocate expects to continue using the term “homophobia.”
The biggest victory of all will come when the journalistic community rejects all forms of ad hominem. Let’s pray that will happen some day soon. Reason should prevail, after all.