Monday, February 09, 2009

This Web Entrepreneur Is Taking an Undeserved "Beating" For His Site

This shouldn't be news, and it's a shame that it is:
A San Antonio man wants to shut down a Dallas-based Web site that sells sleeveless undershirts known as "wife-beaters," because he claims the site is offensive.

Patrick Greene, 60, says he's filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau, the Texas attorney general's office, a Dallas City Council member and the FBI.

Greene said the site appears to glorify, or at least make light of, spousal abuse.
Oh, please. If anything, it's making fun of redneck culture, and I don't see anyone stepping up to defend them here. It's called satire, and Greene should learn a little bit about it before flying off the handle like this.

Fortunately, he's not likely to be able to do anything about it:
pokesmen for the agencies contacted by Greene, along with free-speech experts, say there's little that can be done.

"I don't see where legally you could shut it down unless the site is calling for violence against a specific individual," said Craig Flournoy, a former Dallas Morning News reporter who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 and is now an assistant professor of journalism at Southern Methodist University.

"One of the things about the First Amendment is that it gives you the right to be an idiot."
Well said. And perhaps the only idiotic thing on the site would be the fact that it sells infant-sized shirts (LI'l Wife Beaters) and purports to offer a second shirt at half off to anyone who can "show proof of a conviction for wife-beating." But I think I can detect a little tongue-in-cheek here, can't you?

But again, the agencies contacted by Greene all appear to have a good grasp on our free speech rights; none has suggested that the site be shut down just because it is offensive to some. (If every site that offended somebody could be shut down, how much of a Web would there be?)

Let me say this again: In this country, you do not have a Constitutional right to not be offended, and (heaven forbid), if that were ever to happen, we would no longer be America. The Web has millions of sites, and if Greene is offended, he has the right to point his browser elsewhere.

It's not "Mr. Morning News" anymore: This may have been going on for a while, but I first noticed it when quoting the linked story above: The complainant is called "Greene" on subsequent references. Not "Mr. Greene," but "Greene." The honorifics are gone? How cool is that? (And a search of other stories in both the web and dead-tree editions confirmed my suspicions: They're outta here.)

I was annoyed for the longest time about the DMN's use of the professional courtesy titles in every section except for sports; I felt that their use cluttered up the writing, gave some people a status they did not deserve (a convicted mass murderer should not be called "Mr. Dahmer"), and were often taken to ridiculous extremes (such as the time when the cartoon pizza mouse Chuck E. Cheese was referred to as "Mr. Cheese"). I don't know exactly when they went away, but I'm glad to see them go.

No comments: