The French Embassy in the US is among thousands mocking the Associated Press Stylebook for suggesting that referring to “the French” is among a list of “dehumanizing” labels.
The guide used by most US newspapers went unexpectedly viral Thursday with the still-online tweet viewed more than 23 million times.
“We recommend avoiding general and often dehumanizing ‘the’ labels such as the poor, the mentally ill, the French, the disabled, the college-educated,” wrote the self-declared “must-have reference for writers, editors, students and professionals.”
“Instead, use wording such as people with mental illnesses. And use these descriptions only when clearly relevant.”
The message was retweeted more than 18,000 times as it also racked up more than 9,000 comments, with most having fun at the AP’s expense.
Even the French Embassy in the US joined in, sharing an image suggesting it would now have to change its title to “Embassy of Frenchness in the US.”
“I guess this is us now…,” it wrote alongside the image.
Replying to the stylebook’s guidance, writer Sarah Haider quipped, “I agree with this. Nothing as dehumanizing as being considered one of the French.”
“Rather, such individuals should be thought of as ‘suffering from Frenchness’ and deserve our compassion and prayers.”
Jon Stewart also joked to his 1.6 million followers: “I believe the correct AP label is ‘the/those f—ing French.’”
The style guide soon apologized, writing that “the use of ‘the French’ in this tweet by @AP was inappropriate and has caused unintended offense.”
While keeping the original online, it updated it in the comments to advise just avoiding “the poor, the mentally ill, the disabled, the college-educated.”
That did not stop the jokes at the awkward wording it would encourage — including how to address the AP itself.
“Out: The Associated Press. In: Press Who Are Associating,” one person quipped, while Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle likewise said: “The people experiencing journalism at the AP have their work cut out for them.”
Nicholas Fondacaro, the Associate Editor for the Media Research Center,asked: “Should we stop referring to ‘the’ AP Stylebook and refer to “a stylebook experiencing stupidity?”
Communications consultant Cristina Popa, meanwhile, picked up on one of the other terms still deemed “dehumanizing.”
“The college-educated is offensive? Depending on the college, I might see your point,” she joked.
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