The late comedian George Carlin had a routine about oxymorons or words that didn’t go together: things like “jumbo shrimp” and “military intelligence,” and “ non-dairy creamer.” Find a few more here, and there are more elsewhere as well.
Until last week, “George Carlin and the Centers for Disease Control” would have been one of those oxymorons. They just don’t go together.
But now, thanks to the Trump administration, they do.
Carlin was famous for his seven words you can’t say on television – words The Curmudgeon won’t reproduce here because this isn’t that kind of site. But if you’ve heard of Carlin you’ve probably heard the routine. If you’d like to refresh your memory or just want to laugh, you can find it here.
But now Carlin’s not the only one laboring under limits on what he can say. Last week the Trump administration reportedly delivered unto the folks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a list of seven words they can’t use in documents that are part of the budget they’re submitting to the administration for the 2019 federal fiscal year.
The Washington Post elaborated:
In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of “science-based” or “evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.
Now that the (one of Carlin’s banned words) has hit the fan, CDC officials are denying the ban (“It ain’t so, I tell ya, it just ain’t so”).
But it’s apparently…so very so.
And apparently not the first time, either. Other agencies within the federal Department of Health and Human Services reportedly have had their typewriters washed out with white-out, too, and been told to watch their language, because this administration is now apparently intent on turning around its belief that if you keep saying something often and loudly enough people will eventually believe it to suggest that if you pretend a problem or condition or situation doesn’t exist eventually people will stop caring or even thinking about it and conclude that it, too, doesn’t exist.
That strategy hasn’t worked yet and that’s not going to change.