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Tuesday, January 3, 2006
Orwell could have a case against Bush
Presidential pronouncements may too-closely reflect a familiar literary style
Lawyers for the estate of George Orwell have announced their intention to sue President Bush for plagiarism.
"We have long believed that this administration has stolen much of its policy from Mr. Orwell's writings," said attorney Will Bilyalotz. "Expressly, '1984' and 'Animal Farm.' In some cases, like the illegal surveillance of its own citizens, this administration has lifted the passages word for word from '1984.' Just changing the year doesn't protect the president from copyright laws."
White House spokesman Scott McClellan, while refusing to comment directly because of the "ongoing investigation," reminded reporters that the Patriot Act had given the president the power to suspend copyright laws and, anyway, "No one can own words."
Legal experts believe proving copyright infringement will not be easy. "Even if he is guilty, the president's propensity for adapting Mr. Orwell's '1984' newspeak is so effortless, as if he made up the words himself," said law professor Sue Yu Atdropohat. "Illegal borrowing of words or even fictional characters from published works has a high threshold of proof. The producers of the film 'Being There' have had their lawsuit against the Bush campaign tied up in court since 2000. After all, one man's outright theft of ideas is another man's malapropos."
"Personally, I think this so-called intelligentsia is just jealous," said Newt Gingrich. "Orwell could have only dreamed of great terms like 'defeatist' and 'evil-doer.'"
Bilyalotz differs. "The president's comments like, 'This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table,' is plain and simple, Mr. Orwell's 'doublethink' (the power to hold two completely contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously and accept both of them)."
The president has regularly pointed out that he will do whatever it takes to defeat terrorism, and that those who want to hamstring his ability to steal written material are only aiding the enemy. "9/11 has made us look at our plagiarism in a different way," said the president. "As long as I am president or king, the American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties. And if that takes dissolving the Constitution, then so be it."
"It was Mr. Orwell in '1984' who first came up with 'Victory Mansions' and industrial-grade 'Victory Gin.' Now the president calls his book, a 'National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.' The president doesn't go 10 seconds without using the word 'victory.' One doesn't have to be a math whiz to put two and two together. Our greatest concern is not that the president uses Mr. Orwell's words," Bilyalotz said, "but that he's actually using '1984' as a governmental guidebook, and I'm afraid the president hasn't read how it ends."
In his weekly radio address, Bush said the "Spy on US" program has been reviewed regularly by the nation's top legal authorities and Fox talk-show hosts, targeting only those people with "a clear link to these terrorist networks, which include Al-Jazeera and CNN."
"Freedom is in its last throes," Vice President Dick Cheney said. "First, they take away torture, now they want to take away spying on our own citizens. What's next to go, Fox News?"
The revelation of the unauthorized bugging has delayed renewal of the Patriot Act, which includes a provision giving President Bush monarchial powers. "Not only will it make this country safer," explained the president, "but it will ordain either Jenna or Barb as the country's first queen without the risk of voter fraud or expensive campaigns."
"This country is ready for a female queen," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, "and we can't take the chance that the next election could turn out to be a mushroom cloud."
In other Patriot Act news, the White House has asked historians to remove Ben Franklin's quote, "They that give up essential liberty for a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" from history books. "It's wordy and confusing," Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez said. "And one thing this country doesn't need in its fight against terrorism is more confusing words. At least that's what we feel here in the Ministry of Truth."
CONTACT US: Steve Young is a local radio talk show host and author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful."
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