UnNews:The battle for the right name

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Straight talk, from straight faces UnNews Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 03:25:59 (UTC)

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24 July 2020

An offensive cheese.

SYDNEY, Australia -- William Edward Coon, a prominent cheesemaker once residing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA, appears to have had the wrong surname. He should not be unduly troubled by this, as he has been dead for over 80 years. Nevertheless, the eponymous Mr. Coon's contribution as a cheesemaker will no longer be evident on a popular variety of the gastronomic tribe of cheeses. During his cheesmaking days, Mr. Coon's name was recognized as a colloquial form of the Hebrew name Cohen. Whether this led to any difficulties in joining the local country club is not clear. The real culprit in this fracas seems to be Procyon lotor, the American raccoon. Just as Mr. Coon's name may have been shortened for one reason or another, the raccoon received similar treatment and was often referred to as a "coon". Anyone familiar with raccoons will understand why "coon" became associated with slyness, for they will pilfer almost any food. In fact, they are practically addicted to cheese and will employ the most outrageous deceptions to obtain it.

An offensive animal.

The problem with Mr. Coon's cheese has spread far beyond the world of dairy products. Upon learning of the dangers of ill-considered surnames, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has launched a world first program to eliminate hidden bias in surnames, wherever such bias may be discovered. A representative of AHRC has generously agreed to explain this initiative in order to awaken the public to its overarching importance.

UnNews: "Good morning, Ms. ah...?"

AHRC: "I would prefer not to have my surname used. Would you be so kind as to refer to me as Ms. X?"

UnNews: "Certainly. We can understand your concern given the sensitive nature of surnames at the present moment. What led to AHRC taking up this monumental challenge?"

AHRC: "As you have already noted, the ongoing debate about the unfortunate name of a certain cheese alerted us to the possibility that pursuing individual products might merely be playing whack-a-mole if I may use that insulting phrase which we have insisted is an underlying cause of domestic violence. By turning our attention to the surnames themselves, we can attack this subliminal variety of discrimination at its root."

UnNews: "I understand that you are encouraging people to change their names to avoid offending others with unspoken insinuations that their name might arouse in someone."

AHRC: "That is the case. Are you aware that two of the most popular surnames in Australia are White and Brown? And that these surnames originally were applied to people with white and brown complexions respectively? It must be obvious that anyone introducing him- or herself as White or Brown will instantly arouse feelings of discrimination and bias in others, whatever hue their complexion may be?"

UnNews: "Well, let's begin with these surnames. What suggestions are you making for less offensive names?"

AHRC: "We initially thought that simply removing the suggestion of color from the name would be sufficient, but quickly realized that Gray would create a opportunity for ageism and of course we couldn't ask white people to call themselves Black, although quite a number already do so."

UnNews: "It must be difficult to find surnames that mean nothing at all to anyone."

AHRC: "We tried to take inspiration from George Eastman, who named his camera Kodak on the basis that the word seemed to mean nothing in any language. Sad to say, advancements in linguistics and the inventiveness of popular culture have made it almost impossible to find even a syllable with no meaning, so we had to look further."

UnNews: "Well, let's consider the problem of the cheese. Have you found a name that will avoid racial connotations for that?"

AHRC: "I am proud to say that we have. We discussed this at length and initially thought that the acroynm for People Of Color, or POC would be suitable. This has turned into a legal battle, as Poc Cheese Knife is a registered trademark and the enterprise producing it is being quite resistant to requests to abandon the name for the good of society. So we decided that getting rid of Color might be a good move, leading us to PO cheese. However, the phrase "po folks" descriptive of people who did not have sufficient funds to purchase the more desirable cheeses made this unsuitable. In the end, we found the brilliant solution of adding X, traditionally associated with something unknown, to fill the bill."

An inoffensive cheese.

UnNews: "POX cheese. Don't you think that this name will be something of a liability to the people trying to sell it?"

AHRC: "A trifling consideration for such a leap forward in the advancement of human rights and world peace. It is also consistent with our program of surname modification."

UnNews: "You mean that you want people to change their surname to things like Pox?"

AHRC: "No. You recall that I asked to be referred to as X? Well, we are encouraging people to pick a letter of the alphabet, then add a few digits to it, then perhaps some more letters. Just like on the internet where if you can't have a particular login name, you can just add numbers to it until no one else has it."

UnNews: "Well suppose someone names themselves C00N?"

AHRC: "That's not funny."

Another blow for inoffensiveness.

UnNews: "But it does bring us back to the real villain here. What about other cheeses that may be seen as derogatory? For example a popular brand of cheese can be mispronounced as 'beggah'. We can't have soup kitchens handing out beggah toasties, can we? The image of that begging raccoon springs to mind like a fart in a quiet chapel."

AHRC: "Oh my goodness. Perhaps we could ask them to rebrand it as Welfare Cheese."

UnNews: "And bleu cheeses. What does that suggest to you?"

AHRC: "Oh no! They're ridiculing people with depression! What about Smile cheese?"

UnNews: "Unfortunately that could be interpreted as referring to a cheesy smile, suggesting ingratiation and we're back to the raccoon again. The brand Laughing Cow must surely implant the feeling of happy or perhaps even silly cows in the brains of those passing the cheese case. It may be that you will have to campaign for the abolition of cheese entirely."

AHRC: "You're right, I'll have to get back to the Commission so that we can get to work on this."

UnNews: "Thanks Ms. X. Well, that's it for now folks and to paraphrase Sigmund Freud, sometimes a cheese is just a cheese."