Tuesday, June 03, 2003

You have to read to the end of this Christopher Hitchens article to find this unrelated, but hilarious, paragraph:
Who gets to decide about acronyms? There's been a qualitative decline lately. The most recent instance is that of SARS, or "severe acute respiratory syndrome." Severe and acute? The redundancy cries aloud. Was someone trying to avoid ARS? For a long time AIDS had no name, but then it was an immune deficiency syndrome. Not only that, but an immune deficiency syndrome that was "acquired." Well, obviously it had been acquired. Was someone trying to avoid IDS, with its Freudian sexual-pathology overtones? Perhaps on second thought this clumsiness isn't so recent. I have been campaigning for years against the evident redundancies in the term WASP for white Anglo-Saxon Protestant. Essentially a term of class rather than ethnicity (George Wallace somehow wasn't a WASP, though somehow William F. Buckley is one), it obviously doesn't require the initial W. There are, clearly, no BASPs or JASPs. That would leave us with ASP, which is OK except for that stray Buckley thought. He's Irish Catholic. But what are you left with if you circumcise the P as well? These are deep waters, and they deserve to be plumbed further.


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