The Associated Press Stylebook embarrassed itself on Thursday when it declared that using “the” labels in reference to people can be “dehumanizing.”
Citing some inarguably ridiculous examples of “The” being used to label people, the AP Stylebook even went as far to say that a common term like “The French” could be potentially offensive.
“We recommend avoiding general and often dehumanizing ‘the’ labels such as the poor, the mentally ill, the French, the disabled, the college-educated. Instead, use wording such as people with mental illnesses. And use these descriptions only when clearly relevant,” it states.
The ratios came swiftly as the post instantly became a lightning rod for mockery and derision, including from prominent French people such as political candidate Eric Zemmour as well as the U.S. French Embassy. Hours later, the post had over 13,000 retweets and thousands more comments.
AP Stylebook has been increasingly embarrassing itself over the past few years by playing the language police on entirely common, wholely non-offensive terms. In 2021, for instance, the organization argued that the term “mistress” engenders misogyny and therefore should be replaced with a more acceptable word like “lover.”
“Don’t use the term mistress for a woman who is in a long-term sexual relationship with, and is financially supported by, a man who is married to someone else,” the stylebook tweeted.
“We understand it’s problematic that the alternative terms fall short. But we felt that was better than having one word for a woman and none for the man, and implying that the woman was solely responsible for the affair,” it explained in a subsequent tweet.
The 2020 stylebook guidance also described the term “mistress” as “archaic and sexist,” which followed its 2013 stylebook that deemed “illegal immigrant” or “illegal” offensive when describing a person.
The AP Stylebook also advocates for referring to transgender individuals by their preferred pronouns, which many outlets have adopted.