If you take a hard line in your belief in free speech, you need to double that staunch stance when it comes to humor and satire, because they almost universally require an edge or offense of some kind. Quadruple your stance if that humor or satire is aimed at anything having to do with the government, since they’re not allowed to be offended by our speech. Sorry, government, but that’s the deal we made two-hundred-plus years ago: you get to pretend like you represent us and we get to make fun of you for it…
But apparently there are a significant number of attorneys general out there who are working hard to show you they don’t have a sense of humor at all and they’ll be damned if you get to laugh at a joke they don’t find funny. At least, that’s the conclusion I’m coming to after 23 AGs pressured Urban Outfitters, Inc. to pull their Prescription Line of products, which included a coffee mug dressed up to look like a prescription bottle.
Ohio AG Mike DeWine appears to have led this conga line of stupid:
“People die from accidental drug overdoses in this state every day, and these products make light of the problem,” DeWine said in a May press release. “We don’t find these products funny at all.”
Unfortunately, Urban Outfitters caved and pulled the products, but think of all the things you could nix with this line of thinking: Many people are seriously concerned that they’ve been abducted by aliens, so we can’t allow The X-Files on television. Hitler’s Germany killed a buttload of people, so The Producers is not allowed. A certain percentage of the followers of Islam are offended by depictions of the Prophet Muhammed, so we can’t show a satirical cartoon in… oh, wait.
And that’s really the point: once we begin giving away our right for humor or satire in speech in favor of the comfort of the offended, we’re lost. You might as well just outlaw humor altogether. This case shows that wonderfully, considering that nothing about a prescription coffee mug is directly poking fun at anyone overdosing or dying. Making that leap requires legs for which my mental faculties won’t allow. Besides, I have to imagine there are better things twenty-three attorneys general could be doing than writing letters about coffee mugs.
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