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    Concerned That a Good Name Is Hard To Find

    BY Reg Henry
    by Reg Henry on 3/11/03.

    Last week, high school students calling themselves the Pittsburgh
    Association of Peaceful and Proactive Youth rallied outside the
    headquarters of the city school district in support of peace.

    Whatever the merits of their cause -- and I am for peace, even if
    it doesn't do much to boost newspaper circulation -- surely we can
    all agree that the student group has come up with an inspired name.

    Given the amount that most teens sleep, most young people could
    lay claim to being peaceful, at least in calculus class, but being
    proactive is a greater challenge. In my experience, many kids are
    not proactive enough to shovel snow off the sidewalk, much less save
    the world from militarism.

    As it happens, I have always appreciated good names for groups or
    organizations promoting a cause or public interest. The best names
    declare what the groups are about in bold and unambiguous fashion.

    For example, there's no confusing the Peaceful and Proactive
    Youth with any group styling itself the Rowdy and Inactive Young
    People, and that may prove helpful.

    My love of simple, defining names can be traced to Citizens for a
    Sound Economy, which has been in business since 1984. At that time,
    it is not clear what opposition the group faced and whether there
    was a Citizens for a Screwed-Up Economy from which it needed to
    differentiate itself. Actually, if memory serves, the person
    screwing up the economy most in 1984 was Ronald Reagan with his
    budget deficits, but I am not sure the Citizens had him in mind.

    I confess to having a soft spot for the term "concerned
    citizens," which you often hear on the local TV news, as in
    "Concerned citizens brought a petition to the school board meeting
    tonight ...." This puts the viewer on notice that the fuss wasn't
    being made by aliens, or even by citizens who really couldn't give a
    darn but were just there to raise heck and have some fun.

    Because so many concerned citizens exist, and they have so many
    concerns, the political landscape today is adorned with groups and
    organizations, and many of them have pleasing, no-nonsense names.

    I have begun to keep a little list of groups to cheer myself up
    in these depressing times. While I am not sure what the
    organizations do, when I read the names I know better than to
    confuse them with anybody else. For example, the Center for
    Responsive Politics won't be confused with the Association of
    Unresponsive Politicians, which, if it exists, is likely to have a
    large membership.

    Likewise, the Council for Affordable Health Insurance is clearly
    not the Organization of Expensive Health Insurance. Nor is the
    Center for Public Integrity in any way linked to the American
    Association of Crookedness in Public Life, which, in truth, may have
    another name, and not necessarily the Congress of the United States.

    By the same token, Accuracy in Media is not related to those
    rascals from Inaccuracy in Media and the Institute for Peace and
    Justice is not the Group for War and Injustice.

    A particular favorite of mine is the Committee of Concerned
    Journalists. This is a rebuff to many in the profession who, if only
    they had enough initiative, would organize themselves as the
    Unconcerned Reporters Who Watch the Clock for the Shift to End.

    Sometimes a group will have an appealing name that is
    nevertheless misleading. Take, for example, The Wisdom Fund. At
    first blush, it seems that it might be a fund to underwrite wisdom,
    which would be excellent, given that there's so little of it around.

    Moreover, citizens -- concerned or otherwise -- would know not to
    confuse The Wisdom Fund with The Stupidity Fund.

    As it turns out, The Wisdom Fund has been set up to promote an
    understanding of Islam, which is doubtless a worthy purpose in
    today's world, but nevertheless a disappointment to people like
    myself (wise guys looking for a handout).

    It sounds like a job for the Colorado Center for Chaos &
    Complexity, which you know better than to confuse with the
    McKeesport Center for Order & Simplicity.

    If you have any other examples of aptly named organizations, you
    could always forward them to me. As it happens, I have re-organized
    myself as the Pittsburgh Association of Snoozing and Inactive Older
    Persons, not to be confused with any of the above.