The industry body for magistrates in the United Kingdom has prohibited the use of terms such as "policemen" and "chairman," instructing its 28,000 members.
The Magistrates Association has directed members to stay away from generalized terms like "black, Asian or minority ethnic groups," viewing them as "unintentionally divisive." The body also suggested that magistrates "describe someone's sexual orientation in the terms they suggest."
This guidance, which is part of a 29-page document released in September of the previous year, has drawn criticism from advocates of free speech who believe it is a tactic by "woke warriors," the Daily Mail reports.
Toby Young, who heads the Free Speech Union, remarked: "People are sick to the back teeth of this obsession with policing people's speech."
He questioned: "Do these woke warriors really think they'll dismantle the patriarchy if people start referring to policemen as police officers?"
He added that the Magistrates Association should direct their efforts towards reducing case backlogs and ensuring appropriate punishment for anti-social behavior.
The style guide, distributed to personnel in England and Wales, advises against using terms that might "cause upset." Examples include the recommendation to say "died by suicide" rather than "committed suicide" or "taken their own life."
Tom Franklin, the Magistrates Association's chief executive, expressed his desire for the guide to "be part of everyone's working day."
In a statement, Franklin wrote: "It is unfinished because as new ideas and concepts develop, and as language evolves, we will need to edit and add to it."
"It is a living, organic document that will change and grow over time. There will be parts that you don't agree with. Indeed, there may be advice here that goes against the things you were taught at school and hold dear."
He added: "There are plenty of hotly contested issues such as when to use the Oxford comma or whether you can start a sentence with a conjunction."
"The point is that we all sublimate our own preferences and practices to one style, adopted by all, so that we look and sound like one organisation, speaking with one voice."
The Magistrates Association has clarified that it lacks the authority to issue formal guidance to its members and stated that the advice regarding language is not a policy that would be applied in court proceedings.
In response to criticism of the guidance, Mr. Franklin expressed, "Long gone are the days when magistrates were exclusively male, white and over 60, […] We make no apology for promoting inclusive language in our style guide - a tool that, like in many other organizations, we provide to our staff and volunteers to ensure the uniform use of the English language."
Franklin's efforts to police peoples language seems more like a pat on the back for their supposed progressiveness rather than a sincere effort to effect meaningful change.