The Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say at the CDC

The Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say at the CDC December 17, 2017

George Carlin famously did a routine about the seven dirty words you can’t say on radio or television (the list was actually far longer; at one point I had it all memorized). Now the Trump administration has told those who work at the Centers for Disease Control that there are seven words they can’t say either:


Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden terms at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden terms are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”

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.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, “will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans,” HHS spokesman Matt Lloyd told The Washington Post. “HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.”

This is a bizarre list. Why would they not want them to say “fetus”? They are obsessed with fetuses. I’m surprised they aren’t mandating that the impact on fetuses be mentioned in every CDC report on any subject. It’s obvious why they don’t want them to say “evidence-based” or “science-based.” It’s because they couldn’t possibly care less about science or evidence.

But for crying out loud, why would they not want the CDC to talk about vulnerable populations when talking about the spread of disease? Oh yeah. That might mean poor people or minorities or some other group they don’t like. I can’t wait for the memo telling them that they now have to study only conditions that disproportionately affect rich white people, like tennis elbow or concussions caused by the masts on their sailboats.

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