The AP has axed terms including "homophobia," "Islamophobia," and "ethnic cleansing" from its widely followed stylebook. "Ethnic cleansing is a euphemism for pretty violent activities, a phobia is a psychiatric or medical term for a severe mental disorder," the AP's deputy standards editor explains to Politico. "Those terms have been used quite a bit in the past, and we don't feel that's quite accurate."
"Homophobia especially—it's just off the mark," the editor says. "It's ascribing a mental disability to someone, and suggests a knowledge that we don't have. It seems inaccurate. Instead, we would use something more neutral: anti-gay, or some such." But in its quest for accuracy, the AP may be jettisoning "homophobia" too hastily, writes Nathaniel Frank at Slate. A strong body of evidence suggests that at least some anti-gay sentiment really is a phobia, "and this phobia is the basis for anti-gay policy that blocks equality for millions because of irrational fears," he writes.