Overton Window

Joseph Overton described how some alien for our society ideas were lifted out of the garbage can of contempt, washed off and, eventually, made to be part of the law.

According to the Overton Window theory, each idea or issue in social life has its own so-called window of possibility. Within this window an idea can or cannot be widely discussed, openly supported, popularized, or legalized. The window is moved, changing the spectrum of possibilities, from the position of “Unthinkable” – as in absolutely alien to contemporary morals and thus entirely unacceptable – to the position of “Legitimate Policies”, thus already widely discussed and accepted by the modern conciseness, even legalized.

It is not brainwashing, but a much more sophisticated technique. Its effectiveness is assured by the step-by-step designed influence system, which allows the process to remain unnoticed to the prey that is society.

The following is an example of how society gradually starts to:

first – discuss something that was unacceptable to talk about in the past,

then – consider it appropriate,

and finally – society ends up subduing to the new law, which cements and protects a phenomenon that used to be considered “unthinkable” in the past.

For the purpose of illustration, let’s dwell on something entirely unimaginable for civilized society today. Say, cannibalism as an idea of legal right of citizens to eat each other. Is the example harsh enough?

It is obvious to all of us today that cannibalism cannot be viewed as an acceptable or legal way of life. Not a chance! Modern society will furiously rebel any attempt to openly advance such an idea. So in terms of the Overton Window theory we deem legalization of cannibalism to be in stage zero, nowhere in the window of possibilities. The stage, according to Overton’s theory, is called “Unthinkable”. Let’s attempt to model a process of how the “unthinkable” could be realized in life after it is lead through all the stages of The Window of Possibilities.

The System

Once again I repeat: Overton described the method as a system, as a technique that makes it possible to legalize an idea. Any idea.

Please note! He didn’t offer a concept, he didn’t simply form his thoughts in a certain way – he described a working method – a system of steps, an order of actions, which inevitably brings a desired outcome. Used as a weapon, such a technique can be more effective than an atomic bomb in destroying human communities.

Stage one: HOW RADICAL!

The idea of cannibalism is still rather ugly and unacceptable in modern society. It is not discussed in the press, much less in “good company.” At this point, cannibalism is “the unthinkable,” it is outrageous and prohibited. Therefore, the very first move of The Overton’s Window is to transfer cannibalism from the field of Unthinkable into the area of Radical.

Well, we do have freedom of speech…

So why don’t we discuss cannibalism?

After all, scientists are supposed to talk about everything and they are supposed to study everything; there are no taboos for science. Well, then let’s conduct an ethnological symposium and title it Exotic Traditions of Polynesian Tribes. There we will discuss the history of the subject at hand as if it were a part of today’s science; as a result of such a symposium we will therefore get a fact of the authoritative opinion on cannibalism.

You see, it turns out that one can discuss cannibalism and, so to speak, remain within the limits of respectable science.

The Overton’s Window has just moved. We now have the beginning of a new attitude that provides the transition from irreconcilably negative attitude of society to the more positive one.

About the same time the near-scientific symposium is taking place, there has to come to life some Society of Radical Cannibals. Never mind the fact that it might only exist on the Internet – the radical cannibals will be noticed and quoted by certain mass media.

First of all, the Society of Radical Cannibals creates one more precedent. Secondly, these extremists are needed for the creation of a new societal character – the radical scarecrow of “bad cannibals,” but more on scarecrows later. In the beginning it is enough to publish stories about what British scientists and radical extremists think about eating human flesh.

As a result of this first move of the Overton’s Window, a not too long ago tabooed idea has become a part of the discussion, the idea is no more sacred, the monolith is divided and the “shades of grey” are created.

Stage two: WHY NOT?
As the Window shifts, it moves cannibalism from the Radical paradigm into the area of Possible. At this stage we continue quoting “the scientists”. We shouldn’t be hiding from knowledge, should we? Knowledge about cannibalism, that is. Anyone who turns away from the discussion must be labeled as prude, prig, and hypocritical.

As the hypocrisy is being condemned, cannibalism should be given a new elegant name. Just so that no one dares to label those who “think differently” with the “c” word!

Attention! Creation of an euphemism is a very important moment here. To legalize an unthinkable idea it is necessary to change its true name.

There is no cannibalism any more to speak of.

It is now called, for instance, anthropophagy. This term will soon be deemed derogatory as well and will be replaced also.

The new names help lead the issue away from its essence, distant the shape of the word from its true meaning, thus depriving potential opponents of the common language. Cannibalism turns into anthropophagy, then it turns into anthropophilia similar to how a criminal changes the last name and passport.

Parallel to this name-game unfolds creation of a precedent – historical, mythological, real, or simply made up; what’s important here – the precedent must be legit. It will be found or made up as a “proof” of the fact that anthropophilia can be legalized in principle.

“Remember the legend of the self-sacrificing mother, who gave her blood to her children when they were dying of thirst?”

“What about the stories of ancient Gods that would eat anyone – it was pretty normal for Romans!”

“Well, the Christians, who are even closer to us, were quite all right as far as anthropophilia goes! They are still – ritually – drinking blood and eating flesh of their God. You are not blaming the Christian Church in doing something improper, are you? Who are you to do so?!”

The main goal at this point is to – at least partially – take the act of eating human flesh out of the criminal angle. Even just once, in one instant in history.

Once the legit precedent is presented, there is an opportunity to move Overton’s Window from Acceptable to the area of Sensible.

It is the third step which concludes division of the formerly monolith problem, something that used to be taboo.

“Desire to eat people is a gene trait; it is part of human nature.”

“Sometimes you have to eat a human, there can be unavoidable circumstances.”

“There are people who want to be eaten.”

“Anthropophilists were provoked!”

“The forbidden fruit is the sweetest.”

“A free person has the liberty to decide what one eats.”

“Don’t withhold the information; let everyone understand if the person is an anthropophilist or an anthropophobe.”

“Is there any harm in anthropophilia? It certainty was not proved.”

The battlefield is artificially created in the social consciousness. There are two scarecrows positioned at the very far ends of the spectrum: the purposefully created radical proponents and the just as purposefully created radical opponents of cannibalism.

Efforts are taken to misrepresent the majority of people (normal people who obviously do not want to remain indifferent to the issue of de-tabooing of cannibalism) and pack them along with the scarecrows on one of the far ends of the opinion spectrum as hateful radicals. The scarecrows play an important role of creating an animate character of a crazy psychic: an aggressive fascist hateful of anthropophagy, who wants to burn alive all the cannibals, Jews, commies, and blacks. Presence in mass media is provided to all mentioned above except the normal real people, who genuinely oppose the legalization cannibalism.

Such situation assures that the so-called “anthropophilists” themselves remain in the middle, on the territory of sanity, where they are now well positioned to passionately condemn “the radicals” on both sides of them.

“The scientists” and journalists at this point are busy proving that once in a while humans eat each other for as long as humanity exists, and that it has been rather normal. Now the subject of anthropophilia can be shifted from the area of Sensible into the category of Popular. The Overton’s Window is moving on.

Stage four: IN A GOOD WAY

For the subject of cannibalism to gain new ground, it should be supported by the pop-content, tying the issue with the historical and mythological figures and quite possibly with the contemporary media personalities.

Anthropophilia becomes widely present in the news and talk shows. People are being eaten on the screens of movie theaters, in songs’ lyrics, and in video clips…

One of the ways to create a new trend and make something popular is called “Look around you”:

“Didn’t you know this famous composer was… what it’s called… anthropophil?”

“This one well known Polish screen-writer had been an anthropophil all of his life. He was even discriminated against because of that!”

“And look how many of them were locked up in mental hospitals! How many millions were exiled and had their citizenships revoked! By the way, how do you like the new Lady Ga-Ga’s clip Eat me, baby?”

At this stage the issue has been driven to the top and starts to propel itself in mass media, show business, and politics.

Another effective strategy: the essence of the idea is vigorously muffled over by the journalists, talk-show hosts, community leaders, and so forth. These people are incapable of an in-depth analysis since they operate with the information they are given, whereas the specialists are cut off of the discussion and remain outside of the circles that form public opinion.

Then, just when the argument becomes boring and exhausts itself, comes an especially prepared professional and says, “Ladies and gentleman, in reality things are different. What matters is not this, but this; so such and such needs to be done about it.” – and this person gives the discussion a definite direction. The new direction is predetermined by the main manipulators of the Window.

The cannibals are presented as kind human beings by the carefully crafted positive image. To justify the legalization of cannibalism the practicing criminals are viewed through characteristics that have nothing to do with the essence of the offence:

“They are creative souls. OK, he ate his wife, so what?!”

“They dearly love those they eat. Eats means loves!”

“The anthropophilists have generally higher IQ and aside from anthropophilia, they uphold high moral values.”

“Anthropophilists are the victims themselves, their life made them to be what they are.”

“They were raised that way!”

Such twists become the salt of the popular talk-shows:

“We will tell you the tale of tragic love! He wanted to eat her! She only wanted to be eaten! Who are we to judge? Is this what love really is? Who are you to stand in the way of love?!”


The fifth stage of the Overton’s Window is reached when the subject is hot enough to be moved from the Popular category into the sphere of Legitimate Politics.

The work on the legal base has begun. The lobbing parties in power are consolidating and step out of the shade. Deceitful “sociological polls” are published to demonstrate high percent of those in favor of legalization of cannibalism. Politicians begin to roll practice balls of speeches where they test ideas on its legalization. The new rule of “the prohibition to eat people is prohibited” is implemented into the society’s consciousness.

It is a “special dish” of liberalism – tolerance as a means to prohibit taboos, a means to prohibit destructive for humanity tendencies.

During this last shift of the Window from the category of Popular to the field of Legitimate Politics society is already suppressed and broken. Society’s most viable part would still fight against legalization of things recently considered to be unthinkable. But as a whole, society is already suppressed. It accepted its defeat.

The laws are enacted; the norms of human existence are changed (destructed), the subject will spread on to schools and preschools, which means that the next generation will be growing up in the world where it has no chance of survival.

This is what happened with legalization of pederasty; they now demand to be called “gays.” Right now in front of our eyes Europe legalizes incest and euthanasia of children.

How the Technology Can Be Broken

The Window of Possibilities described by Overton moves easiest in tolerant society. In a society without ideals, and consequently without the definite separation between the good and the evil.

Would you like to talk about your mother being a tart? Would you like to publish an article about it? To sing a song about it? To prove that being a tart is normal after all, even necessary? This is what the described-above technique does. It roots in the “know no limits” mentality.

There is no taboo
Nothing is sacred.

There are no sacred subjects prohibited to discuss, the dirty laundering of which is immediately shot off. What is there you ask?

There is so-called “freedom of speech,” which was twisted into the liberty to de-humanize. In front of our eyes, one after another, the limits are removed; the limits that function as protection for our society, guarding it from the gulch of self-destruction. The way to the bottomless gulch is wide open now.

Are you thinking you cannot change anything alone?

You are absolutely correct: alone, one cannot change anything.

But personally you must remain to be a human being. Being human. As a human, one can find the solution to any problem. What is impossible for one can be done by many united by a common idea.

Take a look around. We are led to believe that all of progressive humanity quite naturally accepts gays and sexual minorities at large: accepts their subculture, their right to marriage, their right to adopt children, and the right to popularize their sexual orientation in schools and preschools. We are told it is a natural way of life.

That’s all, folks

Think about how you yourself, using Overton technology, would make the society to go the way that helps to achieve the following goals:

reduce the world’s population or slow its growth in order to save existing resources;

bleed several strong countries, in order to remain the only strong power;

make the population of their own country politically amorphous and unable to take part in the management of a seemingly democratic state;

create a cult of consumption, when the needs of citizens are always higher than they can afford themselves;

get access to the resources of another state;

create conditions for unfair competition, for example, by imposing economic sanctions on this state.

If we are talking about the goal of limiting the demographic growth of the world population, it is logical to force people to neglect the institution of the family, develop homosexual relations and selfishness.

To defeat a country — which is possible to develop the cult of the enemy, to show unpredictability and inhumanity of the inhabitants of one state in the eyes of the people of another.

Take the citizents out from governing their seems democratic state, and at the same time, if we recall the first goal of limiting population growth, we will be helped by legalized marijuana.

And it would not be bad to make people live in debt by imposing a cult of consumption on them. Offering they to buy and buy, what they do not need at all, for the money they do not have, and they will not risk being left without a penny and a family on the street, defending his civic position.

Well, our dear reader, now the picture of the world takes on new outlines for you? Think about this article, share it. If you consider everything that the media treats you through the prism of this technique, you will very soon make a number of unforgettable, bright discoveries.