You know how it sounds so much more palatable to go scuba diving than to, say, strap on a “Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus?” In that same vein, legislators on the Hill caught on to this a few years ago, and began packaging their now-commonplace rollback of civil rights in grandiose acronyms.
This began most notably with Congress’ October 26, 2001 passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, an acronym for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.” USA PATRIOT sounds far better than the proposed alternative, KAFKA, or the “Keeping Americans From being Killed by Airplanes” Act.
Following on the heels of their success with that bill, the Bush administration and likeminded legislators brought forth Operation TIPS, or “Terrorism Information and Prevention System,” which would have enlisted the help of postal workers, meter readers, truck drivers, and other workers in the public sphere in an elaborate effort to look out for “suspicious” activity. Again, better than the alternative, SPY, or “Subtly Prying Youths,” which would have brought America’s toddlers on board in the campaign to root out terrorist educators. This iteration of the bill never made it out of the House judiciary committee, of course.
And now the acronym brigade is at it again, according to Wired News. In the wake of Johnny Depp‘s Oscar nomination, and their subsequent downloading of that relevant film, Americans are bracing for PIRATE fever:
[O]n Thursday, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) introduced a bill that would allow the Justice Department to pursue civil cases against file sharers, again making it easier for law enforcement to punish people trading copyright music over peer-to-peer networks. They dubbed the bill “Protecting Intellectual Rights Against Theft and Expropriation Act of 2004,” or the PIRATE Act.
The bills come at a time when the music and movie industries are exerting enormous pressure on all branches of government at the federal and state levels to crack down on P2P content piracy. The industries also are pushing to portray P2P networks as dens of terrorists, child pornographers and criminals — a strategy that would make it more palatable for politicians to pass laws against products that are very popular with their constituents.
Meanwhile, civil libertarians across the nation are eagerly awaiting this fall’s ELECTION, or “Eliminating Leaders Elected to Congress To Impugn Our Nation”.