NEW YORK, NY, 12/16/2017–The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) today condemned an effort by officials of the Trump administration to ban the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from using seven words in its budget communications: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based and science-based. “We are deeply concerned about this ham-handed effort to censor the language of our government’s top scientists,” NCAC Executive Director Christopher Finan said. “It moves the Trump administration a step closer to Orwellian ‘newspeak’.”
The Washington Post reported on Friday that Alison Kelly, a senior official in the CDC’s Office of Financial Services, revealed the existence of a list of forbidden words during a meeting with staff members responsible for preparing the CDC budget and related material. A participant in the meeting told the Post that Kelly said the words could not be used in documents that are sent to Congress and CDC partners.
According to the Post, other CDC officials have confirmed the existence of a list of forbidden words, raising the possibility that the ban is in effect in other parts of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
This is not the first time the Trump administration has attempted to censor information about sexual orientation, gender identity and abortion rights. The Post reported that HHS has removed information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans from its website, including archiving a page that outlined federal services that are available for LGBT people and their families.
The banning of particular words prevents precisely the specificity and open-ended research that we most need from our nation’s top scientists. Curtailing their freedom to choose the most precise and accurate words to express their findings and suggestions impedes the very work we ask them to do and creates ideological barriers to medical treatment, scientific development and human progress.