The trouble with making a statement

…is that sometimes you’re not saying what you think you’re saying.

Take this American Apology Shirt, for example. Perhaps you’ve seen it: A multi-lingual text-based shirt, bearing the legend “I’m sorry my president’s an idiot. I didn’t vote for him.” The marketer, Joel Aufrecht, claims it’s intended for international travel: There’s a variant for domestic wear, missing the English version, implying that anyone likely to be offended won’t be able to read any other language. (Which is absurd: I don’t remember much of my high school Spanish or college French, but I remember enough to parse this.)

But then, I’m not really offended by this. Astonished, yeah. Amused, marginally–though I’ll find it terribly amusing if I actually see someone wearing one. Does Mr Aufrecht actually imagine that it will be taken at face value? Is it possible that it would be?

The question this brings to mind is this: At what point does any public figure forfeit the expectation of respectful disagreement? Is it possible for someone on the left to be so screwloose that it’s okay to say the equivalent of “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot”?

(Ah, Seattle. Might have known.)

Mostly I find myself jealous that I haven’t thought of some pithy marketable political statement I could raise a few dollars with. There was a time, back when flag burning was in the news and Jay Leno was advertising Lay’s potato chips, that I toyed with having bumper stickers made with the slogan, “Burn all you want: We’ll make more.” Today, of course, thanks to CafePress and services like it, it’s only a moment’s work to actually make it happen–but few people remember the snack commercial that would make the joke clever (if, in fact, it is clever at all).

Ah, well. My version of the Iraqi Deck of Cards is out there somewhere, waiting for me to think of it.

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