Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When Words Matter Most

Posted By on Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 12:42 PM

We've used the term "illegal immigrant" at Weekly World Central before, and some of those abusive cretins who take the time to comment have informed us that "immigrant" is a joke, and "alien" is best.

This morning, a diversity blog from the Society of Professional Journalists brought it all home for me that the wrong word we've used all along isn't immigrant; perhaps a word is missing before illegal.

When we write about a crime that's taken place we always use the word suspect. Immigrants arrested because they are undocumented have yet to face a judge, and last time I checked, we still have a Constitution, despite the mob.

Enjoy the read here.

For those newswriters who insist on using the phrase “illegal immigrant” (or perhaps because it is a required, company policy); add the modifying adjective “suspected,” as “pro” journalists do when writing about arrestees or police suspects.

A fundamental legal principle in our American constitutional law is that everyone (including non-citizens) is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Consistent with that basic doctrine of law, journalists are urged to use the phrase “undocumented immigrant,” and avoid the denigrative phrases “illegal immigrant” or “illegal alien.”

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