Friday, July 25, 2008

5739: Is Garfield Nuttier Than A Snickers Bar?

Bob Garfield posted another comment on the thread for An Open Letter To Omnicom President-CEO John Wren. Here it is:

To Julia Cohen (and many others),

As the piece makes very clear (notwithstanding the slightly-too-narrow subheadline, which I did not write) it’s not about gay or not gay; it’s about the license to ridicule, demean and target a class of people by virtue of being not prototypically masculine enough.

You don’t wish to go into whether the ad is good or bad or offensive? Allow me: it IS bad. It IS offensive. It IS wrong. It IS insulting. It IS juvenile. It IS bullying. It IS hate speech. It IS bad conduct. It IS bad business. —Bob Garfield, Anytown

Garfield is really unraveling, which is unfortunate, as his original position had validity. In many respects, he’s demonstrating the difficulty of arguing about culture-based offenses with the culturally clueless. Now he has a tiny sense of how New York City’s Commission on Human Rights or Sanford Moore must feel at times.

One problem involves his overreaction on points. For example, is the Snickers spot hate speech? Here’s the Wikipedia entry:

Hate speech is a term for speech intended to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against a person or group of people based on their race, gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, language ability, moral or political views, socioeconomic class, occupation or appearance (such as height, weight, and hair color), mental capacity and any other distinction-liability. The term covers written as well as oral communication and some forms of behaviors in a public setting. It is also sometimes called antilocution and is the first point on Allport’s scale which measures prejudice in a society.

Hate speech seems to require active bias and deliberately evil intent. Let’s hope the Omnicom shop responsible for the commercial isn’t so awful. Besides, most network censors would never allow hate speech to air in primetime. No, this is more likely a case of passive bias—culturally clueless types unwittingly showing insensitivity. Granted, it’s a pretty pathetic exhibit of passive bias. But to categorize it as hate speech would be a signal that the Apocalypse is indeed upon us.

Garfield is also being too politically correct in his positions. To say, “it’s not about gay or not gay; it’s about the license to ridicule, demean and target a class of people by virtue of being not prototypically masculine enough” is complicating the matter. Bob, just admit it is about anti-gay sentiments. You’re confusing the mob.

Finally, Garfield is being ultra aggressive. He’s coming off like Jesse Jackson. And we all know how Madison Avenue views Jackson. If Garfield wants to get back on course, he ought to watch this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Garfield should be applauded (SFX: thunderous clapping and clamourous cheers) for engaging criticism and firing back when he is fired at. He doesn't duck or go mute or disappear. He even searches out criticism and answers it. Perhaps he even changes his positions. Or thinks about them.