Cumberland Times-News

Z_CNHI News Service

October 18, 2013

Lobbyists may adopt Newspeak name, but they're still lobbyists

(Continued)

Sure. Lobbyists never promise politicians donations or other “in-kind” support from their clients, do they?

But if they are hoping this will result in any long-term change in the way people perceive lobbyists, I’m afraid they may be disappointed. Even in “1984,” when the government’s war department was called the Ministry of Peace, the citizens living under that tyranny knew what it really was. They just couldn’t talk about it.

The soon-to-be former league certainly has a lot of company – I wouldn’t call it good company – but there are dozens, if not hundreds, of groups or associations out there that have tried to cloak or disguise the reality of what they are or what they do.

Some of them are outright comical. There is an Independent Living Center not far from where I live. Its name is the exact opposite of what it means. It exists for the purpose of assisting people who cannot live independently. I applaud its mission, and I suppose it is relatively harmless to want to pretend the clients are not dependent. But I don’t think anybody is fooled.

Then there is race. I’ve lived long enough to have been told about a half-dozen different terms I should use for those we now call African American. Supposedly, each new label was going to make people perceive them differently and bring an end to discriminatory actions and thinking.

Yet, this past week, in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, advocates for African Americans and other minorities argued passionately that affirmative action (discrimination based on race) is still necessary to “protect minority rights against a white majority.” After lots of different labels, we apparently have the same old problem.

I recall nearly 40 years ago when an earnest mother came into my newspaper office to tell me that a new state law was going to eliminate labeling mentally handicapped children as “retarded,” and to call them “special needs” instead. This, she said, would lead to a new, and more accepting, perception of those children.

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