Home>Articles>Los Angeles Times Deems ‘Looting’ Verboten and Racist

Looting in Oakland. (Photo: Youtube)

Los Angeles Times Deems ‘Looting’ Verboten and Racist

The policy is inverse liberal racism and a euphemistic assault on the English language

By Evan Gahr, July 19, 2020 7:35 am

The LA Times is no longer going to say that looters are looting.

The newspaper’s newly updated style guide warns:

“’Looting’ is a crime that occurs only during a state of emergency (in any jurisdiction: state, county, city, etc.). Do not use it as a broad label or term for protest, burglary, theft or chaos. Because of the racial connotation and history of the word, use terms like ‘looting’ or ‘looters’ only in the context of criminal proceedings. Unless a story is specifically about looting or those charged with the crime, ‘looting’ or its derivations (‘looted,’ ‘looters’) should not be used in the story, display type (headline, captions, pull quotes, etc.), SEO type and headlines, story description, URL, social share lines, tweets or Facebook posts.”

There may be limited exceptions.

“If in doubt about whether to use ‘looting,’ talk to your immediate supervisor. There may be exceptions to this guidance, and any deviation requires a managing editor’s approval.”

The whole policy is inverse liberal racism and a euphemistic assault on the English language.  Deeming “looting” a racist term attributes blackness to something that really isn’t about race.

And who says the vast majority of people these days associate black people with looting?  The Los Angeles Times is assuming that its readers are racists who associate blacks with criminality.

To any objective observer, looting connotes specific forms of behavior.  Interestingly, the new style guide gives examples of when not to use the word with a series of fact chains that clearly dictate it.

“When writing or talking about the actions of people in stories and visuals (photos, videos, etc.), it is best to describe what they specifically appear to be doing. Examples: 1) Some people broke into the store and stole whatever was on the shelves. 2) A group of at least 20 people threw bricks and shattered the windows of an electronics store. One woman quickly emerged with an armful of iPods. 3) Before leaving the disaster area, a man stopped by his local convenience store and, finding no one at the register, took several 12-packs of beer without paying.”

This is forcing reporters to actually write around what is actually happening. And sanitize headlines. Journalists are supposed to be pithy and summarize things.  All of the above fact chains could best be summarized as “looting.”

The guide solemnly lists other words to use instead of looting.

“Other words to use in lieu of ‘looting’ in headlines could include theft, damage, break-ins, vandalism, burglaries.”

So, “looting” has been cancelled by the Los Angeles Times to extirpate racism that, in actuality,  doesn’t really exist.

Anybody who actually read the LA Times in the immediate aftermath of the killing of George Floyd might conclude that looting is an equal opportunity offense.  In some pictures accompanying stories about looting earlier this year the looters looked white. In another they were black.

The articles didn’t mention the race of the looters.

And while it’s true that looting is a specific criminal offense in California and elsewhere the term is defined much more broadly  in dictionaries.

The policy was instigated by  black LA Times staffers who complained to editor Norman Pearlstine about the word’s supposedly racist connotations.

On the PBS Newshour this June Pearlstine said: “One of the active debates we had over the past week was about the use of the word “looting” to describe the destruction of property. The feeling among the black journalists at The Los Angeles Times who frankly educated the rest of us to the fact that looting had a pejorative racist connotation and that comparing it to the kind of behavior of the police and the kind of behavior that we witnessed really was a false equivalency and yet it was one that we were making as journalists if you picked up a copy of our paper.”

It’s actually not a “fact” that looting has racist connotation. It’s an opinion that in 2020 doesn’t seem to have any solid factual basis.  Or at least the LA Times hasn’t offered any to justify changing the policy.

The style guide was updated July 2. But the changes do not appear to have been reported elsewhere.

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29 thoughts on “Los Angeles Times Deems ‘Looting’ Verboten and Racist

  1. From the California Penal Code..
    463 (b)PC:
    Every person who commits the crime of grand theft, as defined in Section 487 or subdivision (a) of Section 487a, except grand theft of a firearm, during and within an affected county in a “state of emergency” or a “local emergency,” or under an “evacuation order,” resulting from an earthquake, fire, flood, riot, or other natural or unnatural disaster shall be guilty of the crime of looting.

    It is a legal term. Journalism is dead.

    1. Thank you for posting “looting” as defined by the California Penal Code.
      We should always cite standard and long-standing definitions for every word that wrongheaded people — who do not mean well — officiously redefine in an attempt to change language, which only serves to undermine our ability to think properly and communicate with others meaningfully.
      Notice how all such attempts cause DIVISION in the name of UNITY and CRUELTY in the name of COMPASSION.

    2. So you know what happens next – the Democrats in Sacramento will change the law so that the legal term for looting is no more.

  2. Please add the following to your list:

    Car jacking.
    Home invasions.
    Armed robbery.
    Drive by’s.
    Flash mobs.
    Grand theft auto.
    Wet Daddy’s.
    Looseys.
    Brood Mare.
    EBT Cards.

    You just can’t be TOO cautious now.

  3. Definition of “looting”
    anything taken by dishonesty, force, stealth

    Ministry of Truth
    The Ministry of Truth controls information: news, entertainment, education, and the arts.
    “rectifying” historical records to concord with Big Brother’s current pronouncements so that everything the Party says is true.

    “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
    George Orwell, 1984

    1. Your essay “Politics and the English Language” should be required reading for every aspiring journalist, Mr Orwell, and as part of their continuing education.

  4. Forget the LAT style manual says. Here’s the real question:

    So what exactly do we call looting now? Do we call it “A Generous and Ad Hoc Contribution to the Welfare of Disadvantaged Youths”? “Informal Goods Redistribution”? Or perhaps “Entrepreneurial Salvaging”?

    (All in the face of and a justified reaction to “Oppression” and “Systemic Racism” of course.)

    Just asking. And…

    Just a thought.

    VicB3

    P.S. Serious Question: Does anybody actually pay to read the L.A. times? How do they stay in business? It’s seemingly all nothing but, Blame Trump(for Everything!!!), Oppressed Minorities and their Problems, Hate on Tesla and Musk for every little hiccup and stumble, and Who-Sold-What-House-Where-to-Whom-and-for-How-Much. That and lately a lot of panic-mongering and toeing the Party Line on Masks and Shutdowns.

    The Owner is a Chinese Doctor. Maybe it’s just a money laundering scam for Chinese “Investors” (or Latino Drug Lords), none of whom care about what gets written as long as they can shift cash around. Possible.

  5. I wonder when the Times will report on the Democrat party’s history of slavery, Jim Crow, KKK, violent opposition to the civil rights laws in the 60’s etc, etc? Not anytime soon I think.

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