As we explained right below the graphic, we used the meaning of the word ‘gay’ to mean ‘lame’ – as has become common usage the world over (check it out here and here), which is, in our opinion, sick and bad-ass. Which is to say that it doesn’t make us vomit, and we don’t think it fair that we got a spanking on our booty. Which is to say that words evolve, and that times and meanings change – as any good Rhodes and Oxford graduating lexicographic journalist worth her salt should know…
- Laugh It Off founder Justin Nurse reinterprets the dictionary in a spectacularly misguided open letter about a t-shirt copyright dispute with retailer Jay Jays.
The HNIC at Mahala, Andy Davis (the jock above, holding the ice cream), then weighed in with his two cents here, which about brings us up to speed. We preferred not to cram our response on the above into 150 characters, and so took the weekend to consider our opinion, which is this:
1) We are really sorry if we hurt anyone – even, and including, Shaun from Jay Jays (whom, as it turns out, is actually gay). That was not our intention. We say this unreservedly and unequivocally. We are sorry.
2) We apologize if we really offended anyone. This was not our intention either. Our intention was, and always is, to provoke thought and to do this by trying to get a laugh.
3) We are sorry that our point was lost. We were bummed (no pun intended) that Jay Jays copied our spoof T as flagrantly as they did, and that instead of the media and public looking at the accountability of companies such as Jay Jays searching the Internet for useable T shirt images instead of employing the services of local design and creating original content, focus remained on our alleged homophobia. For us, this was a kak vibe to deal with.
4) We will take it on board that calling Jay Jays ‘Gay Gays’ was puerile and ‘jockish’ (though even that could be considered offensive to jocks), and that these means defeated our ends. With credit to Mahala blog commenter ‘Spicer’, this could indeed perhaps have all been avoided had we simply called them “Vajayjays’ (vaginas). Though, that too might have been linked to the dreaded ‘C’ word and we’d have incurred wrath from someone else, no doubt.
And what I want to say is this:
PREMISE 1: Our Bill of Rights defines the curtailment of Freedom of Expression justified when said expression extends to hate speech.
PREMISE 2: Hate speech is defined as ‘incitement to violence’.
PREMISE 3: Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.
CONCLUSION: If we all just had thick, brown, gay skins, we could all just get along and get on with things.
It is my opinion – and I am not trying to win an argument here, just stating my point of view – that the yardstick for determining hate speech is clearly laid out for us in our law: it’s ‘incitement to violence’. So blog trolls telling Justin Nurse to ‘go f#*k yourself’ is in many ways far more hateful as it is, as a directive, than us calling a company gay and it necessarily coming with all the historical baggage of the word. But let me not split ball hairs over this, or be seen to be retracting of that which we are genuinely sorry for.
My father used to say that ‘you can call me anything you like as long as you don’t call me late for breakfast’. Which, for me anyway, reminds me that words alone do not define me. What we DO in life echoes in eternity. The ‘solution’ then, must lie in establishing the intention. Was it our intention to be homophobic, to call for all gays to be trampled in a pride march? Clearly not. Our call to action was to let the owner of JayJays know what you think. And yes, we were upset and we took a cheap shot. Words and sounds, even a lack of words and sounds, can be violent, sure. But if we pussyfoot around every word with context, we’ll only ever end up digging our own hole when what we are simply trying to do is call a spade a spade.
8) I disagree with the assertion of Andy Davis et al that would only have the oppressed call the oppressed the name of the oppressed. My partner is American and he flips out every time our Asian child talks about playing ‘Cowboys and Indians’, claiming that the correct terminology is Native American. Again, it’s all about context. If I am gay and black, does that give me exclusive rights to call others fags, niggers, or bitches? On the advice of the corporate image consultants knocking at our door, I’m not even going to go near the ‘K’ word, which at its root means ‘non-believer’.
9) Words have charges. We bring even more ‘charge’ to derogatory words such as those above when we make them as taboo as we do, banishing them to the (be)wilderness of our vocabulary where they wait, like a brightly-painted elephant in the room for us to trip over, to the tune of a public outcry of ‘OMG, I can’t believe he said that!?!’ when we know that each one of us could equally have said or at least felt the same thing. Freedom of expression is just that, a freedom. Sometimes it will win us a court case, sometimes it will lose us a few fans. Part of the joy of not surviving in a cold-ass country where calling yourself Pussy Riot and criticizing the government will land you in jail, means that in the warmer climes of our young democracy we must learn to take the rough with the smooth. Self-righteous indignation is a form of censorship. Growing a thick, brown, gay skin is all the liberation you need.
Thanking you in advance for your time and consideration, Bartlett.
Cape Town – If Hollywood has taught us anything, there are many ways to outrun the cops, from ramping over conveniently placed trucks to speeding through claustrophobic alleyways.
But in a brazen display of escapism, a Cape Town taxi driver has managed to dodge traffic officials simply by going for a dip.
The bizarre car chase started when the city’s Ghost Squad spotted a minibus driving recklessly on the N2 on Wednesday. Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said that the taxi was swerving between the bus lane and on to the rightshoulder of the road to overtake the other cars on the national highway.
“Officers put on their blue lights and the siren to try to pull him over.”
But the driver refused to stop. As he rounded on the M5 turn-off, he realised that he was running out of road, said Smith.
He decided to pull over, jumping out of the taxi to continue his escape – leaving 18 angry passengers in the stationary vehicle.
The driver’s run turned into a swim after he dived into the nearby Black River.
City traffic services spokeswoman Maxine Jordaan, who was part of the chase, said she had already taken off her shoes and socks and was ready to jump in and carry on the pursuit.
But after looking into the dark and dirty water, she decided against it.
“He can go get bitten by a snake, I’m not risking it,” she said. “He just stood on the other side of the river shouting: ‘Try and shoot me! Just try!’”
A few seconds later, he ran into a bush and managed to get away.
“We have his car, and his details - I’ll find him,” said Jordaan.
After searching his taxi, officers found that the driver had two double contempt warrants out for his arrest.
His passengers were taken to the Cape Town station deck and his taxi has been impounded.
“With impoundment, the owner must fetch the vehicle, bring the driver along and pay a fee before the vehicle can be released,” said Smith.
GIVE THAT MAN A BELL’S!
His ball’s are extra special…
Laugh it Off and Jay Jays “battle” getting media attention. This was spotted on Muhlberg’s Brief. A newsletter by attorney Hans Muhlberg focusing on IP law and no-nonsense journalism.
Laugh-it-Off and social media
In the last issue I mentioned that Laugh-It-Off was now itself having to deal with copycats, with its spoof WWF t-shirt – two pandas humping and the letters WTF – having been copied by a company called Jay-Jays. In previous issues I’ve also discussed the growing importance of PR and social media in IP disputes. Laugh-It-Off has reacted to the infringement – as well as the gleeful media reports – with some style. A mailing to its supporters shows just how the game is now played:
‘To answer Moneyweb’s question “Is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black?”, sure, we smoke pot. Lots of it. Our designer who came up with WTF said she was totally baked at the time. Which was August 2009, according to the date on the original design file… What we are also saying is that Laugh it Off needs you. You, you soldier for freedom of expression who fought with us in spirit all the way to the Constitutional Court…We need you to send a mail to (email address of Jay Jays head honcho provided) and let him know just how awesome his company is for the great lengths that they go to to trawl the internet for original content and then plagiarize and reproduce it in the Far East at prices so cheap they can afford to undercut the original underdog. …Go a step further if you feel to and let them know your thoughts on their Facebook wall (details provided)…Maybe y’all can make enough noise that their marketing team will sit up and pay attention and realize that this kind of business practice is uncool and that it could affect their sales? Maybe their lawyers will pick a fight with us, or maybe, just maybe, their HR department will commission one local artist to produce some original T design work that they can call their own. Wouldn’t that be a result?’
DON’T be this PATHETIC-
and a round of Rolling eyes for the regular-degular “I love you”- switch to my mother-tongue of Klingon- and say“qaparha” cause its awesome
Fin… share the L-O-V-E
When you smell this good, it warps the laws of nature…
“Parents of students at Portsmouth Middle School in Rhode Island received letters from administrators warning that teens who snort Smarties could develop nose maggots.” Be warned peeps.
I guess the US just wanted to be different….