What’s the Point of Bloomingdale’s Date Rape Ad?

Bloomingdale's Date Rape AdThis is a Bloomingdale’s ad from their holiday catalog. If you can’t read the text (I did alter the image to make it as legible as possible), it reads, “Spike your best friend’s eggnog when they’re not looking.” Not surprisingly, Twitter went crazy and Bloomingdale offered a garden variety apology, “We heard your feedback about our catalog copy, which was inappropriate and in poor taste. Bloomingdale’s sincerely apologizes.” Okay.

The one place in the world in which “copy” is thoroughly vetted, it is in advertising. If Bloomingdale’s really believes that the ad was inappropriate, they must have believed that when it was approved. I know what I have to go through just to get the preliminary text of infographics approved to start production. And that’s in a company that more or less consists of three people. Did this ad really just slip through? I tend to think that Bloomdale’s figured that they would get some publicity. It would titillate, but not offend enough to require anything more than a standard Twitter apology.

My question is: what is it an ad for? These are two very beautiful people. She looks carefree like she just performed brilliantly on America’s Got Talent. And he looks like a serial killer from a later David Cronenberg film. I don’t get a “date rape” vibe from this. I think he’s going to kill her and have sex with her corpse. What am I supposed to take away from this? That’s a serious question. If anyone can explain it to me, I’d really like to know. I really think that I’m missing something here. It isn’t unusual for me to be clueless in this way. But I don’t see a product being advertised.

It’s got to be that it isn’t an ad for anything. I’ve read a number of articles and no one mentions it being an ad. “Get her drunk then pop the question with a small karat, visibly occluded, rose-cut diamond.” I guess it is just an expression of holiday cheer. Who among us would not like to sleep with someone who’s marginal enough that we would have to be drugged? And that’s especially true given that eggnog generally has alcohol in it. What is Creepy Serial Killer Guy going to put in the eggnog? Ketamine? Maybe that’s it! Maybe the next page has a list of their offerings:

  • Ketamine — just right for surgery or date rape!
  • Nitrous oxide — it’s no laughing matter when you’re bedding a chick!
  • Phencyclidine — she’ll be too delusional to resist!
  • Valium — with retroactive amnesia, she’ll never know!
  • Diacetylmorphine — when only the best will do!

I don’t mean to take this all lightly. I am very serious in wanting to know what Bloomingdale’s was thinking. It isn’t enough to say that they showed bad judgement. Unless we know what it is they were attempting to do, it is meaningless. And sadly, I think that all they were trying to do was to get us all talking about them.

Jonathan Chait Wants You to Freak Out Like He Is!

Jonathan ChaitI want to be very clear: I think it is wrong that police officers commonly lie on the stand regarding traffic citations that they’ve given out. I’ve seen it firsthand and I think it is an outrage. Yet I have never written an article about it. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve ever spoken to anyone about it. It’s not because I think it is just fine. Rather, it is because it isn’t that important. And this is what I think when Jonathan Chait writes, Can We Start Taking Political Correctness Seriously Now?

I didn’t even need to read it to know what it is about: some Missouri protesters blocking an ESPN photographer from gaining entrance to their encampment. I heard about it over the weekend. And I thought, “That’s a mistake!” We are liberals and we believe in openness and fairness and freedom of speech. Just the same: it’s college. And besides, people do stupid things all the time. Is this a trend? Not as far as I can tell. Incidents like this go back as far as there have been colleges and they never became normalized — even in the “scary” 1960s.

But Jonathan Chait has been complaining about this stuff for years. And if there is one thing that everyone knows about Jonathan Chait, it is that he will never give up a fight. I know of two different fights he’s had with Ta-Nehisi Coates. In both cases, Chait was completely wrong and out gunned. Yet those fights only ended when Coates got bored. Chait would always have a response because in Chait’s mind, he is never wrong. Or something. It could just be that he’s lazy. Once you write an article about political correctness, the next dozen just write themselves. They are all the same, you just have to change the specific example and tweak the reasons why this time young liberals have turned authoritarian.

Hanry FarrellHenry Farrell at Crooked Timber wrote a very useful article, Beware the Commissars of Political Correctness! He documents Chait’s alarmist writings as far back as 2006 when he warned about Netroots and the possibility of “members starting off as relatively sensible liberals, or left-liberals before veering into the abyss.” The abyss, of course, being “more liberal than Jonathan Chait is comfortable with.” He really reminds me of Bill O’Reilly, who is just fine with people of all political stripes — as long as they aren’t outside his clearly defined political window. (Admittedly, Chait’s window is far more reasonable than O’Reilly’s.)

The truth is that every liberal I’ve read regarding the Missouri protesters have been harshly critical. But here’s Chait’s takeaway:

That these activists have been able to prevail, even in the face of frequently harsh national publicity highlighting the blunt illiberalism of their methods, confirms that these incidents reflect something deeper than a series of one-off episodes. They are carrying out the ideals of a movement that regards the delegitimization of dissent as a first-order goal. People on the left need to stop evading the question of political correctness — by laughing it off as college goofs, or interrogating the motives of PC critics, or ignoring it — and make a decision on whether they agree with it. [Emphasis mine. -FM]

So you see the problem. It isn’t enough to condemn the act. We must all join Jonathan Chait’s bandwagon. We must admit not just that the protesters are wrong, but that they are part of some great threat to liberalism itself. Our criticism of this act is proof that there is a major problem. Have things gotten worse in Missouri since this incident? Not that I can tell. So it is more of Jonathan Chait’s Chicken Little act. Missouri is the leading edge of leftist totalitarianism, just as Netroots was nine years ago.

Jonathan Chait has a large readership. And he writes a lot of good commentary. But he blows out of all proportion what everyone agrees is a minor problem. It is very much as if I went around ignoring police brutality because my personal cause — the one that really gets me excited — was the injustices going on in traffic court.

See also: Jonathan Chait Should Stop Writing About Education Reform.

Anniversary Post: Articles of Confederation

Articles of ConfederationOn this day in 1777, the Continental Congress approved the Articles of Confederation. It took them 16 months to come up with that piece of crap. It just shows how little the colonies trusted each other. But over time, we did become one nation. What most amazes me is how much we’ve regressed. It used to just be the south that couldn’t get over the fact that their human “property” was taken from them. But now it seems that a majority of Republicans really think that the Articles of Confederation are superior to the Constitution.

The conservatives who most claim to love the Constitution most embrace the Tenth Amendment, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” But conservatives think it reads, “The powers not expressly delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” But that’s not what the Constitution says; it is what the the Articles of Confederation say. Well, actually, it said, “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.”

The Articles of Confederation stopped us from being a functioning country — largely because of that clause. But I’ve never gotten the idea that modern conservatives hate the idea of one country. But they know that they can’t, for example, make the whole country allow slavery. But they do think they could enforce slavery in Mississippi. And so that’s where we get all the “states’ rights” garbage and the idea that the federal government can’t do anything other than what it is expressly given the power to do.

So, am I saying that conservatives are not patriotic? Yes, in general, I am. Not all conservatives, of course. Originally, it was the conservatives who were most in favor of federalism. But anyone who talks about states’ rights and waves around the Confederate battle flag is indeed not patriotic. They ought to be waving around an ISIS flag for all I care. I would respect their right to do either, but I don’t respect any of the people who do so. But the thing is, I can’t imagine an ISIS supporter going around claiming that they are patriotic Americans.

Yet we get nothing but Neo-Confederates claiming that they love the Constitution and the United States so much. But they don’t. And they are already involved in terrorism, and it will only get worse — helped on by the NRA, which is only committed to the well being of gun manufactures, who are in turn only interested in their profits. Going back to the Articles of Confederation were hurt all of them more than the rest of us. The economic powerhouse states would still get along. But that doesn’t mean that it still wouldn’t be very bad for the nation and the world.