Wednesday, December 01, 2004


So the US-VISIT program will take affect any many more border crossing starting December 31st. I'm not saying it's a bad collect biometric data on all visitors to the US, both at entry and exit points. I'm wondering if it will be used to punish only the law-abiding types, whilst those slipping across the border will be generally ignored just as they have been for many years. Enforcement against illegals working in the US is sporadic - they are deeply engrained in areas of the country as low-cost labour. When sweeps are done, pressure from elected officials can make the Feds back off before they really have much impact. The net result is that those who choose to deal with authorities are more at risk of deportation than those who avoid them. The analogy to crime would be if the police generally only arrested people who came into the station to give statements. Although it is is within their charge to deport the immigrants coming in to them, it seems merely self-serving and in no way contributes to a society safer from terrorism, for example. It's the opposite, perhaps, of the way it should be.

But on a linguistic level, I must object to the name US-VISIT which stands for United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology. Or to be more correct, someone at the Department of Homeland Security thought:

"Hey - US VISIT would be a cool anagram"
"You mean acronym, moron"
"Yeah, that too"
"Guess we have to make it stand for something now!"

Do these...I hesitate to use the word thinkers...think that acronyms are a way to take a word and invent meanings for each of it's letters? When a part of language is used in the very opposite way that it should be, it should make us stand up and protest. Other sins against acronyms include some sequences in the recent puppet movie "Team America". I must add to the creators of said film, that the idea of parody is to mock the subject of the parody (horrible, boring, overly long, 80's action movies), not to make a horrible, boring, overly long 80's movie using puppets. The only good thing about this film is that it saved Shelley Long from worrying that "Frozen Assets" would be judged the worst thing ever put on film. She can die knowing she won't be at the top of that sad list anymore. The only mildly amusing thing in the movie was the kitties, but otherwise it was coma-inducing. I haven't dozed off in a movie since "Eraserhead" - and that was not intended as a comedy, kids. But back to the misuse of acronyms in "Team America". They have "Alec Baldwin" as head of the Film Actors Guild (F.A.G.). Get it? Ha, ha, Fag. That's clever. If you are twelve. No, I take that back. It wasn't clever when anyone was twelve either.

As far as US-VISIT goes, it was sad to see another lame-ass acronym follow in the footsteps of the horrendously acronymed PATRIOT act...and as far as the next four years go, we may look forward to many more federal programs named things with USA, MOTHERHOOD, and GOD as part of their painfully forced acronyms


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