(LibertySociety.com) – The Associated Press (AP) provides a stylebook aimed at giving writers and editors consistent guidelines on areas of language, spelling, and grammar when producing or reviewing written content. Like many companies, it has a Twitter account — @APStylebook — it uses to give helpful writing tips to the public. One recent post, however, earned it a good ribbing when they indicated “the French” was dehumanizing.
On January 26, APStylebook tweeted with recommendations of terms to avoid. The post suggested writers stop using “dehumanizing labels” that start with the word “the.” Some examples it shared to demonstrate that point were: “the poor, the mentally ill,” and “the French.” Many jumped in to poke fun at the tweet for its inclusion of “the French” — including the US French Embassy.
The entity responded in kind, joining in on the fun and pretending to change its name to “Embassy of Frenchness in the US” with the caption, “I guess this is us now…”
— French Embassy U.S. (@franceintheus) January 26, 2023
According to The Guardian, one writer, Sarah Haider jokingly said French people should be referred to as “suffering from Frenchness,” adding that they are due “compassion and prayers.” Although many social media users had a good laugh about the situation, including comedian Jon Stewart who joined in the mocking, the Associated Press hopped on the platform the next morning to announce it took “the French” out of the dehumanizing term lineup. The company said the tweet was “inappropriate” and offensive, and further clarified on the use of “the” preceding a group of people.
By the time the AP changed the post, it had reached viral status with over 21 million views, nearly 39,000 likes, more than 17,000 retweets, and almost 9,000 comments. APStylebook followed up on its tweet to clarify how to refer to French people, making it clear the organization didn’t mean to offend anyone.
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