The Associated Press Stylebook tweeted an admonishment to stop using the word “riot” to describe political protests and instead use the milder “unrest” to avoid stigmatizing protesters.
The guidance was tweeted on Tuesday amid numerous protests, riots and looting across the country.
“Use care in deciding which term best applies: A riot is a wild or violent disturbance of the peace involving a group of people. The term riot suggests uncontrolled chaos and pandemonium,” the official AP Stylebook Twitter account said.
“Focusing on rioting and property destruction rather than underlying grievance has been used in the past to stigmatize broad swaths of people protesting against lynching, police brutality or for racial justice, going back to the urban uprisings of the 1960s,” the AP Stylebook explained.
Rioting and looting erupted in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police officers. Many on the left have bristled at headlines that focused on the destruction caused by the rioting instead of the stated purpose of the protests.
The Associated Press recommended using more mild terms when referring to property destruction from the rioting.
“Unrest is a vaguer, milder and less emotional term for a condition of angry discontent and protest verging on revolt,” the AP continued.
“Protest and demonstration refer to specific actions such as marches, sit-ins, rallies or other actions meant to register dissent. They can be legal or illegal, organized or spontaneous, peaceful or violent, and involve any number of people,” the AP said in a further tweet. “Revolt and uprising both suggest a broader political dimension or civil upheavals, a sustained period of protests or unrest against powerful groups or governing systems.”
New guidance on AP Stylebook Online:— APStylebook (@APStylebook) September 30, 2020
Use care in deciding which term best applies:
A riot is a wild or violent disturbance of the peace involving a group of people. The term riot suggests uncontrolled chaos and pandemonium. (1/5)
The stylebook has been criticized in the past for seeming to bow to left-wing pressure to redefine words and phrases.
In May, critics on Twitter had a field day mocking the stylebook for banning the use of the word “mistress” as archaic and sexist. In 2013, the stylebook banned the use of the word “illegal immigrant” and recommended instead the use of the term “undocumented” when referring to illegal aliens.