A Reminder: Douchebaggery Is Not A Zero-Sum Game
The best way not to feel nauseated when you analyze a free speech issue is to assume everyone involved is going to be an asshole. That way you may be pleasantly surprised.
Case in point: fashion dipshits versus actress dipshit.
On the fashion side: a clothing outlet called Kitson. Kitson's Twitter Bio reveals what they think of themselves: "Kitson, with a flagship store on hip Robertson Boulevard, is the favorite stop for many celebrities and the who's who in Hollywood." Now, I always have been and always will be in the bottom 10% in terms of fashion and hipness. But even I, in my dim and unfashionable Dockered state, can tell that Kitson is trying much too hard.
Kitson sells clothes, sort of. It sells clothes which, if your child wore them, you would be torn between feelings of shame and feelings of relief that you probably won't have to pay for college and will be able to afford that vacation home now. For instance:
Anyway, now Kitson is proudly selling clothes that hilariously reference drug use, for values of "hilarious" that equal "belabored, pretentious, and eye-rollingly needy":
Kitson's clothes and their promotion thereof are part of a venerable fashion tradition of acting like an asshole to get attention. It's part of a contiuum of smug douchery that has featured things like Calvin Klein's "oh hai look child porn please notice me". Kitson defends it using typical pretentious and incoherent fake-artist drivel.
This led Kitson, in a flurry of self-seriousness, to threaten to report Johnson to police:
@kjothesmartass Ms. Johnston do not threaten our customers. Please remove this threat or we will forward this to the authorities. Buy tee shirts, not drugs.
This, of course, is ridiculous. Ms. Johnston's joke may show she's unlikeable, but it's not a true threat, and therefore protected by the First Amendment. Nevertheless, Johnston deleted her tweet, and is now attempting to position herself as a free speech hero.
I hate everyone in this story. I hate Kitson. I hate banality-weaponizing designer Brian Lichtenberg. I hate Kristen Johnston, who thinks that joking about violence against t-shirt messages she doesn't like makes her a hero and free speech advocate. (Do I also hate her for being part of a knee-jerk War on Drugs culture that makes America the biggest jailer in the world? Meh. Not really. Kitson isn't anti-drug-war, Kitson is pro-look-at-me-or-I'll-die.)
However, they all get First Amendment protections. All of them. That's easier to determine when you don't come into the situation expecting to like anybody.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
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