Public Editor

Is ‘bias’ a synonym for ‘discrimination?’

Some of my favorite questions from readers are the ones without any single answer. Like this:

(Recent stories about Roeland Park’s vote to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity) keep referring to it as an “anti-bias” ordinance. In my opinion there is a great difference between a bias and discrimination. I understand that the word “bias” is much shorter/easier to fit on a headline, but I don’t think that this word comes close to conveying the same meaning as the word “discrimination” which is what the ordinance seeks to address. Is it possible for him to consider using the word “anti-discrimination” or “non-discrimination” in any future KC Star articles?

To be fair, the text of the coverage usually uses “discrimination,” with “bias” used more often in headlines, where space is always at a premium in print.

But I think this reader has a point. They aren’t really the same thing.

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