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.
... and we professional journalists all wish that you evil, hateful, and politically incorrect Freepers people would quit referring to Undocumented Democrats as illegals ...
We know that they are really “Undocumented Democrats”.
The “SPJ” just proved the “value” of their education....worthless!
Illegal immigrant replaced the term illegal alien, which was seen as too inflammatory to use. So now the only people who talk about illegal aliens are strong conservatives.
So now we’re not even supposed to say that these people are immigrants? How did they get to America? How PC can we get in describing someone who is here but is not a citizen, and came here in violation of the law in the first place?
Or are we supposed to be good liberals and ignore illegal immigration??????
Wetback is more appropriate...
I guess old Dan is the posterkind for the Society of Professional Jourwhoralists!
I have always been fond of illegal alien myself.
I think that this society of journalists should be careful about going on a “crusade” for anything. Muslims are offended by the term “crusade” because of the historic Crusades.
Liberal journalists, pick another term please to describe your efforts.
Eff these state-propagandist bastards who refuse to call things as they really are.
I agree. Let's go with "Wetback."
"Illegal Alien" would work also.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” —Isaiah 5:20
We are in Orwell’s 1984 in many ways, and this is one of them. Controlling the language and how people use language also changes the ideas and concepts that can be expressed. If we can’t call these people illegal at all, it changes the concept of their status, so that the presumption is that there is no legal violation involved. If they are just “undocumented”, that puts them in the same category of somebody who is undocumented because he/she lost their driver’s license.
American jurisprudence calls them exactly that - illegal.
What is offensive here is the SPJ to logic and reason.
Would “illegal parasite” be clearer?
I also like “undocumented democrat”.
How about “border crashers?”
While we're at it, let's replace "Professional Journalist," too. "Politically Correct Propagandist" would be more accurate.
Next the SPJ will call those people who, following a natural disaster, go from store to store, helping themselves to merchandise, “undocumented shoppers exercising a deferred purchase plan” instead of thieving looters.
They should go back home and get one eh!
I still like "illegal alien" ~ which was a step up from "greasers", "wetbacks", and "Mescan" ~ but these guys are definitely NOT IMMIGRANTS. To be an IMMIGRANT you have to have an IMMIGRATION VISA.