French poke fun at news agency for suggesting ‘the French’ is ‘dehumanising’
The Associated Press was forced to apologise on Friday for suggesting “the French” is a dehumanising term in new guidance on language sensitivity.
The American news agency came under fire from the French themselves, after posting some of its style guidance on Twitter.
“We recommend avoiding general and often dehumanising “the” labels such as the poor, the mentally ill, the French, the disabled, the college-educated,” said AP.
“Instead, use wording such as people with mental illnesses. And use these descriptions only when clearly relevant.”
The politically correct rules soon came in for criticism online.
Right-wing firebrand Eric Zemmour, a failed candidate for the French presidency and avowed foe of the woke, declared “we are the French”, in response.
Like the UK and the US, France is in the midst of a culture war over what it calls “le wokisme”.
Even the French embassy in the US could not resist poking some fun at the po-faced advice.
It joked on Twitter that it should be renamed the “embassy of Frenchness” from now on.
I guess this is us now... https://t.co/YFybgfI2AB pic.twitter.com/LrKvgjiw1X
— French Embassy U.S. (@franceintheus) January 26, 2023
American Twitter users also piled in and asked whether “the Batman” was offensive.
Rather than refer to “the French”, one said they should be called “people with Frenchness”.
AP said that it would update the offending tweet, which was sent on Thursday night, and apologised on Friday morning.
“The use of ‘the French’ in this tweet by AP was inappropriate and has caused unintended offence,” it said.
The AP Stylebook is hugely influential in the US. Many American journalists use it as a reference and final arbiter when deciding how to write their stories.