May 07, 2011
Meanwhile, Back at the Nation Formerly Known as America…

From a press release issued by the institution formerly known as the Fort Worth Public Library:

The word “public” has been removed from the name of the Fort Worth Library. Why? Simply put, to keep up with the times. In today’s day and age, the word “public” implies a place that, at one time, might have been viewed as institutional and restrictive. All are welcome at the Fort Worth Library. By removing one word with a potentially negative connotation, the Library aims to appear more welcoming and accessible to all.

American rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, formerly known as Nazi rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, once published a memoir called I Aim at the Stars. The un-American comedian Mort Sahl suggested adding a few words: — but Sometimes I Hit London.

Writing at Alternet, David Morris adds his own few words clarifying Fort Worth’s experiment in rebranding:

All things public are under attack. The Fort Worth rebranding is an indication of how effective this attack has been. The city explained that it was dropping the word “public” because of its “potentially negative connotation.” The Founding Fathers would be disconsolate. John Adams wrote in 1776, “There must be a positive passion for the public good, the public interest … established in the minds of the people, or there can be no republican government, nor any real liberty: and this public passion must be superior to all private passions.” Thomas Jefferson agreed, “I profess … that to be false pride which postpones the public good to any private or personal considerations.”

Would it be improper for me to mention the Forth Worth rebranding initiative was mostly paid for by a large oil drilling company?


Posted by Jerome Doolittle at May 07, 2011 10:49 AM
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Damn. Things just get spookier and spookier . . .

Posted by: John Gall on May 7, 2011 1:32 PM

Well, at least they haven't pimped out the "naming rights" to the FW(P)L to some megabank or supermarket chain. Yet, anyway. This move may actually be a preliminary to that.

Posted by: Tim on May 7, 2011 2:40 PM

Perhaps an intended lead-up to removing "public" from the name of our tax-supported schools. Vocabulary defines the rules.

Posted by: Hoffmann on May 7, 2011 3:18 PM

Oh, now I get it: "Public" as part of the name was confusing, as some might infer that it is a library designated primarily for a clientele of public housing persons.

Posted by: Hoffmann on May 7, 2011 3:35 PM

You're right on target about the "public" schools, Hoffman. The latest talking points for the Anti-Democratic Party call for calling them "government" schools from now on. Watch for this at your local Tea Parties. It's been a long-time goal of the right wing think tanks and the anti-Christs of the evangelical dominionists to destroy public schools and have the taxpayers, via voucher schools, fund whatever education remains. Hence tarring public schools as tools of the hated "gubmint."And of course, as we're seeing throughout the country right now, this would also rid us of those pesky teachers' unions.

Posted by: Phillyboy on May 7, 2011 4:01 PM

The minds of Republicans ever attuned to the connotation of anything that might be sexual may fear that too many of their like minded Republican Christian Conservatives colleauges might see the word Public and thing of something related to the pubic, thus the change.

As a side note, quite a number of years ago a storage company that rented space for those small warehouses we see at the edge of any metropolitan area, and sometimes within the city limits of large cities as well itself faced a marketing dilemma. The public would see storage space advertised and thing that it was meant to be used by business entities. A stroke of advertising genius was added and the name of the company was changed to "Public Storage". You've probably seen these mini-warehouse facilities somewhere in your travels across the US. At any rate, sales shot through the roof after the name change. Perhaps it's a good sign. If Republicans ever decide to charge users for the use of public libraries, without the use of the word Public on the door, people will perhaps expect that books will be lent out for free, as opposed to space at a "public warehouse" facility. Interestingly enough, the ownership of "Public Storage" leans very Republican. Whether that means anything is anyone's guess.

But I prefer the pubic explanation. Clarence Thomas would surely recognize the irony, although he would also surely deny it.

Posted by: Buck on May 7, 2011 4:32 PM

Shouldn't the Republican party now be known as the Rean party?

Posted by: Steve Zeoli on May 7, 2011 4:56 PM

They don't like space to be public because that would imply no single person or corporation controls it. They like control.

Weirdly, I think this anti-public terminology movement snowballed in England in the Thatcher/Major era. There's a lot of angry satire against that kind of government-transmogrified-to-business language in the Fry and Laurie comedy routines from the early '90s (available on Netflix).

An English friend was especially offended by the use of "customers" in announcements on the public rail lines. He claims to have repeatedly stood up on trains to say, "Not customers, passengers!"

Posted by: Martha Bridegam on May 7, 2011 9:33 PM

The U.S. Postal Service has been on this trek for some time now---just a few years ago prominent eye-level signage appeared above the service counter in post offices to identify for "customers" that the [former United States Postal Service] clerks had become "sales" representatives.

Posted by: Hoffmann on May 8, 2011 5:48 AM

I've been to two state fairs and a goat-f*ck, but I ain't never seen nothin' like this before.

Posted by: WilliePete on May 8, 2011 7:12 AM
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