Attempt to ACORN Planned Parenthood fails
Remember ACORN? The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now essentially closed in 2010, after what they called “a series of well-orchestrated, relentless, well-funded right wing attacks.” Despite that, Fox News was still trying to blame ACORN for Occupy Wall Street last fall. One of the greatest sensations in the ACORN saga was a fraudulent video that purported to show a pimp and a prostitute being assisted in their business by an ACORN representative. Fox even reported a fake ACORN murder story as fact, in 2009.
In 2002, the Oxford English Dictionary added Bork as a verb, defining it this way: “To defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media, usually with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office; to obstruct or thwart (a person) in this way.”
It’s named after Robert Bork, a 1987 Supreme Court nominee of President Ronald Reagan who failed to gain Senate confirmation, eventually leading to the appointment of Justice Anthony Kennedy. The opposition to Bork began within an hour of his nomination and it went on to include things like his video rental history. Sound familiar? (Check out “Why Romney’s ‘dog on car roof’ story makes him unfit to be President.”)
I’m suggesting that we now consider adding the verb ACORN and define it as essentially the same thing as Borking, only instead of directing it at a person, it is the systematic vilification applied to an organization to prevent it from pursuing its mission. That is exactly what Republicans have been trying to do to Planned Parenthood for years now. And as heartwarming as it was to see the apology from the Susan G. Komen foundation yesterday for getting sucked into carrying water for the right wing like a bunch of Tea Party rubes, this fight is probably not over.
Maybe we don’t really need a new word, since organizations like this tend to be incorporated and as Mitt Romney will tell you, corporations are people, too. But if ACORN ever catches on, I want everyone to remember who came up with that little chestnut. (It took 15 years for the verb Bork to make the dictionary, so I still have until around 2025 or so.)
The Susan G. Komen fiasco came off much like the Verizon Wireless attempt to install a $2 “convenience charge” last December. It went viral on the web, the backlash got some legs and voila, the organization had to walk it back. The Komen organization can now decide if they’re really better off for hiring Sarah Palin-endorsed Karen Handel as their senior vice president for public policy, since they’re not doing so well with the public or their policy these days. She’s probably being retroactively Borked right now.
While constantly claiming persecution themselves, conservatives have no problem when it comes to trying to ACORN things like labor unions, the United Nations, Girl Scouts, the ACLU and other groups that don’t buy into their dogma, such as Planned Parenthood. All the while, they decry “the liberal media” for not joining them in their crusades. Some are even trying to get Ellen DeGeneres fired as a J.C. Penney spokesperson because she’s gay. Penney’s isn’t bowing to the reliably intolerant bigots in the misnamed ‘family values’ crowd and it’s good to see the pushback. Because giving in to the constant carping of right wing talk radio mouthpieces, Faux News and front organizations is just plain nuts.
UPDATE: We have been informed that the verb “ACORN” was actually cited 11 months ago by one, Jane Isay, of New York. Interestingly, she also named another group that is being ACORNed by the right: National Public Radio.
UPDATE: Insiders finger Karen Handel as the driving force behind Komen PR disaster with Planned Parenthood. (Free advice: This is when you fire your public policy VP for putting her own views well ahead of the interests of your organization…):
UPDATE — Karen Handel Resigns: http://tinyurl.com/7uqb73o