Titles of Laws as Propaganda

How illiterate do our politicians think we are?

In the old days we had plain titles of laws, such as the Voting Rights Act or the Civil Rights Act. In the United Kingdom, the titles of laws still reflect their subjects, whether the Official Secrets Act or the National Health Service Act. The modern U.S. Congress, as the least trusted institution in America, is particularly prone to these propaganda titles. Thus, modern Americans, instead of universal, government-funded healthcare, get government-funded propaganda: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

An adult discussion about serious issues is hard to have when the public is treated like infants. It’s not just the recently struck down Defense of Marriage Act. There’s also the Stop Online Piracy Act (which did not pass) and the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which with at least equal fairness could be titled the Banker Bonus Protection Act. At least the Defense of Marriage Act is mostly known by its unwieldy acronym DOMA. To avoid that problem, the Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism (PATRIOT) Act designed the acronym to be as misleading as the title.

As former Senate chaplain Edward Hale replied when asked whether he prayed for the senators: “I look at the Senators and I pray for the country.”

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COMMENTS: 10


  1. Steve Nations says:

    I had no idea the title of the Patriot Act was an acronym. Does that put me in the minority?

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    • Jeff says:

      No, I had no idea either! But this is clearly an example of one of my most hated devices: the backronym. Taking a word that you decide will be the abbreviation and then shoehorning and unwieldy, and usually incomprehensible and ridiculous, phrase into it. This drives me nuts.

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  2. Mike B says:

    Yeah, in the Silver Age X-Men it was the Mutant Registration Act. Today it’s called the Americans with Abilities Act.

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  3. Eric M. Jones says:

    “How illiterate do our politicians think we are?…”

    Extraordinarily!

    T.A.R.P.= (700 Billion Dollars)=One-hundred dollars from every man woman and child on the planet sent to Wall Street for undeserved bonuses for people who should be in prison.

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    • Cory says:

      Though at least Wall Street paid it back (plus interest). Which is far more than what most people who receive money from Congress do.

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  4. Allen says:

    The worst or Laws or Acts named after someone. Any law named after a victim or dead congressperson is always horrible. The “Lilley Leadbetter Equal Pay Act” => “The plaintiff lawyer enrichment act”. The “Sony Bono Copyright Act” => the Disney(tm) cash flow act.

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  5. Joe J says:

    “How illiterate do our politicians think we are?”

    People are unfortunately forced to either judge a book by it’s cover/title, trust what the media claims about it, or read it themselves.
    Considering the PPACA is thousands of pages long (longer than a set of encyclopedias) written in ‘legalese’ and to quote politician, ” you have to pass it to find out what’s in it.”
    Literacy has nothing to do with it. Reading an understanding it fully isn’t possible in a reasonable length of time.
    It isn’t a law, it is a bookshelf by itself. You could hide anything in its pure bulk.

    As to the names, well deception and politics go hand in hand. And media is not far removed from it.

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  6. Clifford Johnson says:

    How about the Federal Reserve Act? The Federal Reserve System is not federal, but private.

    How the deceptively largest caption on both sides on every dollar bill – “United States”. The bills are private Federal Reserve bank notes.

    The constitutionality of factually specific propaganda (demonstrable falsehoods) is currently pending decision in the Ninth Circuit case, Johnson v. US Dept. of the Treasury, No. 12-16775. See my article Federal Court Affirms Sweeping “Bully Pulpit” Government Right to Lie, at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Federal-Court-Affirms-Swee-by-Clifford-Johnson-130221-478.html

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  7. Greg says:

    Except that the PPACA isn’t a universal, government-funded healthcare program – that would be the UK NHS system. It’s a universal health insurance program with incentives to purchase on the private market and safety nets and subsidies for those who cannot afford to on their own. Increasing the pool to include healthy individuals who wouldn’t normally purchase health insurance and increasing the availability of far less expensive preventative care will decrease risk, which lowers costs making health insurance and health care… affordable. Throw in the measures to protect patients from insurance company abuses and you have an act addressing both patient protection and affordable care.

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