Skip to comments.SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists) Takes Up Crusade against Term ‘Illegal Immigrant’
Posted on 12/15/2010 8:37:11 AM PST by Zakeet
The Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ)s Diversity Committee has announced that it will be launching a year-long campaign to educate journalists about the hurtfulness of phrases like illegal immigrant, which is the term currently preferred by the influential AP Stylebook.
The label remains offensive to Latinos, and especially Mexicans, and to the fundamentals of American jurisprudence, wrote Leo E. Laurence, a member of the SPJ Diversity Committee and the editor the San Diego News Service (which appears to be this blog that was last updated in August, 2009.
Seeing as most Latinos in the U.S. are not illegal immigrants and since the term has no racial or ethnic connotation its hard to see how it would cause offense to this group. In fact, the only people who should really be put off by the term are illegal immigrants themselves (or their advocates), who dont believe unlawful residency in the U.S. should be a crime.
Laurence argues that the terms undocumented immigrant or undocumented worker should replace illegal immigrant, because the U.S. legal system presumes that one is innocent until proven guilty.
One of the most basic of our constitutional rights is that everyone (including non-citizens) is innocent of any crime until proven guilty in a court of law, wrote Laurence, whose bio notes that he holds a law degree. Simply put, only a judge, not a journalist, can say that someone is an illegal.
Obviously you dont need to go to law school to understand that basic concept. And its certainly important to use words like suspected when writing about a specific individual whose immigration status has not yet been determined. But it has absolutely nothing to do with getting rid of the term illegal immigrant altogether.
Drunk drivers are also innocent until convicted in a court of law and yet the Miami Herald headline Miami police cracking down on drunk drivers hasnt warranted a similar critique from SPJs civil libertarian crusaders. Car theft, too, is considered a crime that must be adjudicated through the legal system. But when the AP reports that Newport News police want to reduce car thefts, does the SPJ consider this a violation of the constitutional rights of the car thief community.
There is simply no difference between those headlines and ones like, Miami police cracking down on illegal immigrants, or Newport News police want to reduce illegal immigration. These reports are referencing a general group, not accusing individual people of crimes. They certainly dont clash with the presumption of innocence before the law.
The SPJ diversity committee says undocumented immigrant is a more appropriate description. Yet living in the U.S. without any documentation of citizenship is illegal. Using the term undocumented immigrant is disingenuous, because it downplays the severity of the crime. Its like calling a car thief an unauthorized driver its misleading to the point of inaccuracy. And when a journalist makes the decision to mislead readers, in an attempt to portray a person or group in a more positive light, it cant be called anything but pure advocacy. Its a shame that an important group like SPJ is promoting such tactics.
Don’t know about “undocumented democrat,” since ACORN has already been working very hard in their behalf. How about “pre-registered democrat”?
How about “People who get all the free stuff”?
It contains lots of short words that Journalists can easily spell.
Illegal alien works best.
Illegal immigrant implies that they will eventually be seeking citizenship. Until that aim is expressly declared they remain aliens.
I’ll be more than happy to drop the term “illegal immigrant” from my vocabulary and use the term “illegal alien” in its place.
It used to be their job to report ~ not make up, and in this case their argument is that the AP style book is out of date and should change. Anybody could have told them that ~ took AP ages to learn to refer to "Conservative" instead of "Rightist", and "President Bush" instead of "Shrub".
But, that doesn't matter anymore. The INTERNET controls the style book these days. If you can't say "s--t" then you spell it "5h|+"; and a gazillion of us already know a dozen ways to evade every attempt to regulate our discussions of sex, sexual matters and sexual equipment, and try as they might the gay blades get referred to by all the new terms as well as the old terms and there's nothing they can do about it but cry their widdle eyes out!
That’d be an explicitly homosexual video, right?
I agree we should replace “illegal immigrant” with something more definitive.
I suggest “border jumper”, “invader”, or “criminal interloper”. Other more colorful (and pejorative) appellations might also suffice.
I am going to take up a crusade against the term “Society for Professional Journalists” since they’re neither professional nor journalists.
Syme to Winston, cafeteria
‘The Eleventh Edition is the definitive edition,’ he said. ‘We’re getting the language into its final shape — the shape it’s going to have when nobody speaks anything else. When we’ve finished with it, people like you will have to learn it all over again. You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying words — scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We’re cutting the language down to the bone. The Eleventh Edition won’t contain a single word that will become obsolete before the year 2050.’
As a replacement term I nominate “F`ing Foreign Invaders.”
Um, that is a very hurtful phrase. I think we’d need to say “...it’s an exploration into the alternative lifestyles of creative free thinkers....”
Oooooh, I LIKE that! How about “imminent deportee”?
Hey, a quick thought ~ “illegal alan” (as in “Alan Grayson” the crazy guy).
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