The latest distraction for President Trump — and confusion for the American public — involves his administration’s advice to multiple agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services to avoid using certain words in official documents being prepared for next year’s budget. The forbidden words are vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based, and science-based.

That directive reminds me of a chilling sentence from George Orwell’s classic book, “1984.” He wrote: “The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.” I hope we never have “perfect” language and will always have the freedom of thought and expression that comes with messy language.

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  • Yes, language has power, foreshadows changes we may or may not want to embrace.
    Look at the miracles already reaped from: provider, prescriber, customer, marketplace and healthcare industry. A small shift in terms and now many doctors see they’re working assembly lines and patients see they or their health records are the products. Quite a contrast from 20 years ago when “paternalistic” medicine, disorganized as it was, could provide no assembly line. Patients had the freedom to stay with “their” doctors for years or choose to leave them for another.
    Trumps addition to our “trigger word” dictionary should be welcomed by the socially conscious. The author does not agree. To touch on the obvious, “fetus” is the word used when it’s “okay” to kill a baby. “Transgender” is the word used if it’s fine to have adolescent girls, some victims of sexual assault, be forced to go to the bathroom and change in front of biologic males. “Diversity” is the word used to discount and dismiss people who can’t claim any ethnicity at all, but plain vanilla. Perhaps they will graduate to a recognized minority, one day.
    I happen to like the list and think we are all smart enough to recognize the politically strategic and morally obfuscating power of these words. But I wish doctors would stop promoting their personal politics by exploiting their academic position, lofty sensibilities and “evidence-based studies.”
    Peggy Finston MD

  • Considering the serious lack of the ability of Trump to speak well in general, I find this highly hypocritical that he would demand such a lack of proper terminology. Quite baffling, and it is all about control, and frankly disrespect coming from him.

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