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All Choked Up

The indomitable Mike Pesca is still working way too hard. He sent this in...without seeing the last post, honest.

I am interviewing New York City Councilman Peter Vallone for a story about new, acid graffiti to air on Monday. On Vallone's Web site, I came across what has to be the worst acronym in the history of civic organizations:

"As Pro Bono Counsel to C.H.O.K.E. (Coalition Helping Organize a Kleaner Environment), Vallone led the fight against the proliferation of power plants and represented C.H.O.K.E. and Astoria residents in Queens County Supreme Court, winning a major victory against the New York Power Authority."

Well, obviously spelling "cleaner" with a "k" should not be allowed. Sometimes acronyms cheat a little to get to the desired word.

An example is Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, known by its acronym "VHEMT," which is pronounced "vehement." While this movement endorses the voluntary extinction of the human race to save the planet (I know, I know, "You guys go first…"), somehow they decided that to get to the "vehement" sound, they'd abbreviate their organization with the first letters of the first three words, but then the first and last letter of the last word. Seems arbitrary.

Then there are the acronyms that people don't even know are acronyms. Have you heard of Emily's List, the pro-Democratic feminist political action committee? EMILY is an acronym for "Early Money Is Like Yeast."

Do you know the anti-AIDS crusaders ACT UP? ACT UP is "AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power."

But C.H.O.K.E.? It has the krazy "k." But it's also horrible branding in terms of naming yourself after a word that connotes discomfort and possible death. It also implies that, just as your group is about to get its legislative goals met, they'll be thwarted at the last minute.

And finally, I worry that C.H.O.K.E. will be confused in people's minds with a group that I've done a lot of work with over the years:

Society To Rectify Abusive Nooses, Garrotes, Lanyards, Etc.

Or as they're better known, "STRANGLE."

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