The Name

The newsletter called Law And Order Party has featured seven things to do in Rhode Island, or very close to it, each week for five and a half years.

It’s named, vaguely, after The Law And Order Party of Rhode Island, a short-lived and very local political party that existed solely in the 1840s. Until that time, the vote in Rhode Island was limited to white male property owners. After the industrial revolution began but before waves of immigration brought immigrant labor to the factories, workers were pulled from farms into the newly developed mill villages, where they immediately lost any chance of voting in elections. For a little while Rhode Island even had two competing governments, and martial law was declared in 1842. The story of the Dorr Rebellion is an interesting one that I had never heard of until college, despite growing up here. The Dorrys, an annual celebration of local art and culture, are named for Governor Thomas Dorr, the sworn enemy of the Law and Order Party of Rhode Island (but a sort of scrappy folk hero for Law and Order Party the newsletter). He was jailed during the rebellion but a Dorr statue now site in the Rhode Island State House.

Anyway. For the first six months the emails were titled What’s Happening This Week and I figured basically anything was better than that. This seemed quirky and locally specific, plus the .party URL suffix had recently become available and I thought it sounded less hokey than if I called the newsletter The Weekly Clamcake or something. Perhaps most importantly, I thought that people might remember the name because of the TV show. For nine years I ran a literary project with a name that NO ONE could remember, and I really didn’t want that to happen again. Plus parties are fun?

Moving forward, I’m abandoning the Law and Order Party name because over the last few years it’s taken on a popular usage that is completely antithetical to my beliefs. Early this summer, the president started using it. He’d done it before, while campaigning in 2016, though he dropped it rather quickly, I think, once he was elected. Well, he’s campaigning again.

In the meantime, like many people, I’ve started learning about copaganda, a phenomenon that I (obliviously, as a culture writer) had never really taken into consideration. So, I’m ditching it.

If anyone has taken any offense to the name over the past five years I apologize. And if anyone has a better suggestion for a new name moving forward, I’m all ears.

Matthew Lawrence
(updated August 2020)