Seven Forbidden Words: On the Uses of Censorship
Date Written: 02/01/2018
Year Published: 2018
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX21933
In December 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) moved to take ideological control of the agency's budget-writing process. A Trump appointed official presented a directive to the agency's departments listing seven words that were not to be used in budget preparation.
Sometime in the month of December 2017, somewhere in the bowels of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington, D.C., a high-level appointee of the Trump administration moved to take ideological control of the agencys budget-writing process. This official presented a directive to the agencys departments, such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), listing seven words that were not to be used in budget preparation. If they were, they would be flagged and the document sent back for correction. The seven forbidden words are: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based and science-based.
The higher-ups at the HHS have insisted that there is no ban in place. Departments like the CDC can still do research in areas to which these unwelcome key words relate. But this disclaimer is misleading. To do the research you need money, and the money comes from the budget. The discouragement of key words is meant to marginalize their related research agendas. If fully effective, this attempt at censorship for that is what it is could contribute to undermining several generations of cultural progress, and challenge the science-based methodology that serves as a foundation for the modern world.