~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I O 93 93/93 I O ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Location: LaGrange, Kentucky, United States

The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Recipe for media attention

Got a bone to pick? A grievanve to air? Want the press to hear your outraged condemnation of... well, of anyone? Here's your formula:

Ben & Jerry's sorry for Irish "Black & Tan" upset

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ice cream makers Ben & Jerry's have apologized for causing offence by calling a new flavor "Black & Tan" -- the nickname of a notoriously violent British militia that operated during Ireland's war of independence.

The ice cream, available only in the United States, is based on an ale and stout drink of the same name.


"I can't believe that Ben & Jerry's would be so insensitive to call an ice cream such a name and to launch it as a celebration of Irishness ... it's an insult!" wrote one blogger on www.junkfoodblog.com.

"I hope they don't try to launch it here in Ireland or I imagine they'll lose a lot of their fans."


1 obscure yet offensively named frozen dairy product
5-6 outraged offendees
1 tablespoon each; adversarial journalism, culture of victimhood

Combine ingredients in a medium/large free speech zone, whip until frenzied, serve hot or cold. Don't matter which. Milk that bad boy until apology is issued and then fold in the creamy balm of healing, you know, just to show you're a sport with no hard feelings after forcing an apology for seemingly innocent yet secretly insidious labeling!


Jeff Goldstein has already covered the societal implications of ice cream politics here during the "Burger King Ice Cream" controversy of last year and in numerous other posts. To paraphrase his argument (with which I wholeheartedly agree) he asks, "Just when did we decide that the constitutional right to free speech is trumped by a non-existant "right" of freedom from offense?"

Who gets the final word in determining the intent of words? The speaker? Or any random, offended listener?

If the onus of understanding is on the speaker to make his intent clear, then it follows that the speaker should be the one to define his own intent. (This, BTW, is the way I would prefer all arguements took place.) This position, it seems to me, reinforces the notion of free speech as both a right and a responsibility. Conversely, if it's the listener's responsibility to interpret the words accurately, read between the lines so to speak, this would also favor the speaker in terms of free speech. The speaker, under this paradigm, is free to say whatever he wants without explanation! I doubt anyone would agree to that framework. But leave it to the leftists to come up with a third option: Put the consequences of free speech on the speaker, but cede the power of interpretation to the offended listener!

The possibilities for abuse are clear. Example: If I were to adopt an Aussie accent for what I considered a harmless joke and say, "Noice day, idn't it?" to anyone with a bone to pick with me, under the current paradigm of "the speaker is always culpable" and "the listener is always the final judge of the speaker's intent" well, I'm leaving myself open to all sorts of accusations of cultural insensitivity, aren't I? And, being solely culpable for any misinterpretation of the intent of my words, the offended party could demand an apology at the very least, if not additional punishment in the form of social ostricization, censure from my employer, expulsion from campus, etc.

This, I think, is scary stuff, brought to public attention by ice cream of all things.

UPDATE: This post appeared on the site many, many hours after submission. Blogger's been acting squirrelly.

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