SUPPORTERS OF ABORTION RIGHTS bristle at the term “partial-birth abortion,” and sympathetic journalists often make a point of setting it off with scare quotes or injecting a phrase meant to dilute the term’s grisly legitimacy — for example, “a controversial procedure that critics call ‘partial-birth abortion'” (as the Los Angeles Times has put it), or “a ban on so-called ‘partial-birth’ abortion” (to quote Reuters).
But what happens to such fastidiousness when it comes to terms coined by liberals? Terms like “Fairness Doctrine” — an Orwellian label for government stifling of untrammeled political speech over the airwaves. Or like “Employee Free Choice Act,” a benign title for legislation that would deny employees the right to a secret ballot in workplace elections. Strange, isn’t it, how the concern with terminological exactitude kicks in at the appearance of a freighted expression from the right, yet fades into the mist when the language comes from the left?