What's in a name? - Grant Vandersee

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose    

By any other name would smell as sweet;        

― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act II Scene II

A name is important.  Often, the first exposure we have to a business, organisation, movement is its name.  Businesses often spend considerable time, thought and money in developing a catchy, memorable, and sometimes meaningful name.

And some don’t – like the cryptic “Zzyzx Peripherals Inc”, or the poorly named “PMS Firearms, etc.”, or perhaps “Poopsie’s” pizza restaurant. (Yes, these are all real business names!)

And then there are those times when the name is deliberately deceptive, to lure you into thinking it is something it is not.

Consider countries such as the German Democratic Republic, more commonly known as East Germany, a Communist state that was certainly not democratic. Or perhaps the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), which is neither democratic not for the people. Similarly, the People’s Republic of China (mainland China) is not for the people, whereas the Republic of China (Taiwan) is, as is the Republic of Korea (South Korea).

Some groups or programs choose a name, or slogan, that sounds so pure and noble that only a total reprobate could possibly disagree.

Antifa – if you oppose the anti-fascists, doesn’t that make you a fascist?

Black Lives Matter – so you don’t think black lives matter?

Safe Schools – schools shouldn’t be safe?

Marriage Equality – you oppose equality?

Love is love – who would stand in opposition to love?

The list of misleading names goes on: Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, Voluntary Assisted Dying…

And why do so many “progressive” policies seem to drive us backwards to fewer freedoms, more restrictions, more control?

But as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover. And this applies to any group or organisation, or program. You have to look deeper, at the motivation, actions, policies, activities, results, to see what the actual agenda is.

(As an aside, it is interesting to note that the same people who declare that Antifa are clearly anti-fascism because “it’s in the name!”, also denounce any suggestion that the Nazis were socialists, even though “socialism” was in their name.)

Perhaps, you can oppose fascism, without supporting intolerant, aggressive, often violent, activism bordering on fascism itself.

And maybe you can declare that all black lives really do matter (as do all other lives) – from conception to death – without kneeling to a Marxist organisation intent on destroying families and societal values, whilst ignoring so many struggling black lives.

You might even be able to oppose bullying, and encourage students to accept everybody, and treat everybody as equal human beings, without feeding them dangerous, unscientific radical gender ideology.

And we all agree that equality of marriages is important – maybe we just disagree on what marriage actually is.

As for “love is love”, what does that even mean? I would suggest that that’s a topic for a later discussion.

In this era of the 24-hour news-cycle, social-media journalism, and the quick sound-bite – a vicious cycle driven by a public lacking any decent attention span, and a political class trying to avoid scrutiny – all we get is slogans and catchy program names. And a culture increasingly opposed to free speech and honest debate will use any opposition to their positive-sounding phrases to shut down dissenters.

But we must look past the warm fuzzy names, and lofty slogans, and consider the actual reality of the programs and activities. Don’t be swayed by the pretty cover.

Perhaps Shakespeare would also agree, that which we call a sewer, by any other name would smell as foul.


Grant Vandersee is a former secondary teacher who is now horrified at what is being taught and promoted in schools. A husband and father, political engagement runs in his family with three generations serving in local government. He's been personally involved in party politics for 20 years and is a member of the Liberal National Party. Grant is a staunch advocate for life, family, free speech, individual freedom and religious liberty.

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