Wednesday, May 16, 2012


I enjoy a daily email from Oxford University Press called ‘Usage Tip of the Day.’  (Find it here if you are interested.)  It is a publication of selections from Garner’s Modern American Usage.  It is interesting little tidbits about, as you might guess, American English.  I try to keep up.

Sometimes you learn interesting things from this little newsletter that go beyond the correct use of American English.  Today, for example, we came to uses and phrases connected to the work ‘right.’  This brought us to ‘right-to-lifer.’  Here is the entry:

right-to-lifer (= an opponent of abortion rights) is journalists' jargon -- and is often used as a pejorative. E.g.: "The cast of characters includes . . . Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, a strident right-to-lifer who took the questionable step of asking the court to reconsider Roe." "The Battle over Abortion," Newsweek, 1 May 1989, at 28.

Rather revealing, isn’t it?  It is ‘journalists jargon’ that is used as a bad name for (and notice carefully) an opponent of abortion rights.

So, it appears, that a significant group of journalists assume that there is a ‘right to abortion.’  I was aware of that, of course.  But it was interesting to see it so plainly stated in this kind of publication.

Taking a little jab at such ‘journalists’ I propose some parallel phrases:

right-to-ownershiper (= an opponent of the right to steal)

right-to-selfer (= an opponent of the right to rape)

Finally, here is one journalists should take up:

right-to-freedom-of-speecher (= an opponent of the right to censor journalists)

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