Is it legal for the US government to ban words?

Recently the Trump Administration published some words that the CDC could no longer use. Words like “Transgender, Fetus” etc…

Is this legal? Is it not unconstitutional?


No. The government has the right to regulate how its own agencies communicate.

Dem’s fightin’ woids!

ETA: Fire.

The executive branch made a directive about what an agency controlled by the executive branch can put in its official correspondence. It might be stupid but it’s not illegal.

I assume they’re only banning them in official publications. It’s possible the President as the head of the Executive Branch has ultimate authority over final edit. So I guess he can use or instruct others to use what words he wishes. But I don’t know.

To be helpful to those affected, I suggest:

Fetus => “Advanced-stage embryo” or “post-embryo”
vulnerable => susceptible
science-based => “scientifically accepted as true (by most except idiots)”
evidence based => fact based
transgendered => transgender (as I understand transgender people prefer that form rather than the “ed” form)
diversity => melange (Trump probably doesn’t even know that word)
entitlement => depends on usage but “human right” in some cases “earned” in others.


it is the opposite of legal :mad:

The NYT is reporting that this was a strategy by mid-level career employees (i.e., most likely Democrats) with regard to internal budget requests. It has nothing to do with scientific discourse or communications with the public, and it was not an action by the Trump administration.

Says who?

A long time ago, IIRC, California decided that Master and Slave were no longer going to be words that could be used in internal memos to describe “Primary Hard Drive or Primary Network node” and the Secondary one attached to it. I don’t know what came of that – if the whole world had to stop using the terminology, or just California state IT memos, of if it just got dropped.

For decades (maybe even still today?) the FCC has threatened & punished radio & TV stations that broadcast over the air any of the ‘7 dirty words’ made famous by George Carlin in his routine. That appears to be legal; it’s been enforced against stations.

On what basis is it illegal? (Hint: The First Amendment doesn’t apply here.)

Can you point us to the NYT report stating this? I just had a look and couldn’t find it.

I would be reassured if the denials by HHS and CDC expressly used the words in question.

For what it’s worth…

Here a link to a thread I started about this that got closed. It offers a peek into the right’s view. Too bad it got closed, it was illuminating to hear their justifications.

GQ is for facts. Where are yours?

I already placed an order for the t-shirt. :cool:

It’s not a law, so it’s legal.

If my boss tells me not to use the word “funtacular” on a document, I don’t use the word. If I do, I (could) get fired. That’s what’s happening here.

The CDC’s in the Executive Branch, so the President is their boss. That’s where this directive is coming from. It’s not a “law -> citizen” interaction, but a “boss -> employee” interaction.

It doesn’t appear to be coming from the President. It was apparently a bright idea concocted by managers within HHS.

You still might see the terminology in a BIOS, but it’s no longer used due to changing technology, not political correctness. IDE/PATA cables had 3 connectors - to mobo, master, and slave. SATA cables only have 2. SATA has been the standard for almost 2 decades.

Wikipedia says LA county made a request to stop using the terms.

Obama “banned” the use of “negro” and “oriental” in the same manner.

There’s this site called Snopes out there that can help with these things.