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Reader Letters

Choosing the Right Words

Dear sir or madam,

I have been regularly reading and enjoying TMN for several months now, and I was recently taken aback to see a headline reading “Latitude lacks in McCain’s anti-choice actions, even if his statements are muddled.”

Surely the authors and editors realize that “anti-choice” is an invective term for pro-lifers, as they identify themselves. It would be unprofessional and offensive to use slurs to refer to other groups, so why are pro-lifers any different? I sincerely hope that these kinds of offensive terms can be avoided in the future, or at least contextualized for the epithets that they are.

Thank you for your time,
Justin Knapp

Rosecrans Baldwin responds:

Dear Justin,

Thank you for your note. Our house style rule with regards to “pro-life” states that we don’t use “pro-life” to refer to someone who is otherwise “anti-abortion,” unless it appears in a direct quote or is a part of a group’s official name. “Pro-life” implies that pro-choice advocates are anti-life, which is silly.

And in the headline you cite, we used “anti-choice” rather than “anti-abortion” to play around with the terminology, and also to place the emphasis in regards to McCain more on women’s choice.

Concerning offense, we never want to offend one of our regular readers. We regret doing so, Justin, if you were offended. Again, we appreciate your note and your enjoyment of TMN, and we hope you continue to stick with us.

All best,
Rosecrans Baldwin


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