AP Stylebook: Eh, Let’s Try Not to Use the Word “Riot,” Okay?

Endlessly in search of the most politically correct way to describe what’s going on in the world, the Associated Press Stylebook updated its recommendations this week, discouraging reporters from using the ugly (if accurate) word “riot” to describe racial protests that descend into violence and chaos. Instead, the AP did a little presto magic, expanding its definition of the word “protest” to include demonstrations that include a little violence!

“Use care in deciding which term best applies: A riot is a wild or violent disturbance of the peace involving a group of people. The term riot suggests uncontrolled chaos and pandemonium,” said the AP Stylebook. “Focusing on rioting and property destruction rather than underlying grievance has been used in the past to stigmatize broad swaths of people protesting against lynching, police brutality or for racial justice, going back to the urban uprisings of the 1960s.”

Heaven forbid we stigmatize rioters by calling them rioters! Heaven forbid that journalists report the truth about destruction and rioting! No, no, we have to continue to focus on the “peaceful” ones. We can’t be accused of ignoring racial grievances, no matter how far out of reality they become. If you have a racial grievance, after all, you can burn down stores, loot to your heart’s content…do whatever the hell you want…and we can’t say a word about it, because, you know, oppression.

What is happening to this country?

While the AP doesn’t specifically instruct journalists to ignore instances of destruction, the Stylebook encourages them to use softer, kinder language to describe it.

“Unrest is a vaguer, milder and less emotional term for a condition of angry discontent and protest verging on revolt,” the AP wrote.

Yeah, if there’s any maxim that every good writer internalizes, it’s to use vague, mild language to get the point across.

“Protest and demonstration refer to specific actions such as marches, sit-ins, rallies or other actions meant to register dissent,” the AP continued. “They can be legal or illegal, organized or spontaneous, peaceful or violent, and involve any number of people. Revolt and uprising both suggest a broader political dimension or civil upheavals, a sustained period of protests or unrest against powerful groups or governing systems.”

Sounds like we’ve got ourselves a “revolt” or an “uprising” in Portland.

Speaking of journalism, we couldn’t help but notice that a beloved Hollywood star from the 1980s – Rick Moranis – was knocked out by a random black guy in New York last week and it got exactly ZERO mentions in either the Washington Post or the New York Times. We wonder if that would have held true if he’d been black and his assailant white…

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