Ohio AG Gets Urban Outfitters To Pull Satirical Prescription Coffee Mugs From Stores, Citing His Own Lack Of Humor

from the free-speech-doesn't-work-like-that dept

If you take a hard line in your belief in free speech, you need to double that staunch stance when it comes to humor and satire, because they almost universally require an edge or offense of some kind. Quadruple your stance if that humor or satire is aimed at anything having to do with the government, since they’re not allowed to be offended by our speech. Sorry, government, but that’s the deal we made two-hundred-plus years ago: you get to pretend like you represent us and we get to make fun of you for it.

But apparently there are a significant number of attorneys general out there who are working hard to show you they don’t have a sense of humor at all and they’ll be damned if you get to laugh at a joke they don’t find funny. At least, that’s the conclusion I’m coming to after 23 AGs pressured Urban Outfitters, Inc. to pull their Prescription Line of products, which included a coffee mug dressed up to look like a prescription bottle.

Ohio AG Mike DeWine appears to have led this conga line of stupid:

“People die from accidental drug overdoses in this state every day, and these products make light of the problem,” DeWine said in a May press release.   “We don’t find these products funny at all.”

Unfortunately, Urban Outfitters caved and pulled the products, but think of all the things you could nix with this line of thinking: Many people are seriously concerned that they’ve been abducted by aliens, so we can’t allow The X-Files on television. Hitler’s Germany killed a buttload of people, so The Producers is not allowed. A certain percentage of the followers of Islam are offended by depictions of the Prophet Muhammed, so we can’t show a satirical cartoon in…oh, wait.

And that’s really the point: once we begin giving away our right for humor or satire in speech in favor of the comfort of the offended, we’re lost. You might as well just outlaw humor altogether. This case shows that wonderfully, considering that nothing about a prescription coffee mug is directly poking fun at anyone overdosing or dying. Making that leap requires legs for which my mental faculties won’t allow. Besides, I have to imagine there are better things twenty-three attorneys general could be doing than writing letters about coffee mugs.

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Comments on “Ohio AG Gets Urban Outfitters To Pull Satirical Prescription Coffee Mugs From Stores, Citing His Own Lack Of Humor”

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75 Comments
Michael (profile) says:

Making fun of drug abuse

So what I am getting out of this is that objects of this shape and color with clear labels about how they should be used are making light of prescription drug abuse.

That actually explains a lot.

The containers that the drugs are in are actually making fun of their abuse. Holy crap! What a revelation! We clearly have to put a stop to that. Perhaps prescription drug containers should be shaped like coffee mugs and not have labels with instructions on them.

I am so glad they have helped point out that these containers and labels are taking such a serious problem lightheartedly.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: How this should have gone down:

AG’s: We find your product offensive, and would like to ask you to pull it.
UO: Are we breaking any laws?
AG’s: Well… not as such, no, but we will attack you in the press, drag you into costly litigation, and make sure we do find any other, unrelated offenses that we can pin on you if you don’t do what we want.
UO: hmm…would it help you if we sold a bunch of these on CraigsList so you can attack them again?

FM Hilton (profile) says:

Aw, I wanted one!

Damnit, this is why we can’t have nice things! Stupid, paranoid, dumb people who see evil in everything.

I work in the goddamned pharmacy industry, and I thought it was funny. I would have liked a mug for myself..along with a few others.

Yeah, there are overdoses of prescription drugs..but that doesn’t mean funny should be outlawed.

Also the fact that most OD’s come from drugs that are illegally obtained doesn’t seem to come into play, does it?

Nah, would make too much sense!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Aw, I wanted one!

The thing is about Ohio is that the rates are really that high. Illegal trafficking of prescription Meds has caused local buy back progerams in rural areas like Mount Vernon, Centerburg, and even big cities like Columbus. The rate of overdose deaths from recreational use of prescription Meds is almost as high as the same count as those who take controlled substances legally. Every 3 or 4 months my local pharmacy runs out of medication I need to function in society…Concerta….and it’s very popular to pass it around to those who don’t need it for cramming exams. I mean it is almost as bad as the Crystal Meth problem in Oregon.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Aw, I wanted one!

The thing is about Florida is that the rates are really that high. Illegal trafficking of umbrellas has caused local buy back programs in rural areas like Perry, Middleburg, and even big cities like Tampa. The rate of hurricane propelled umbrella deaths from recreational use of umbrellas is almost as high as the same count as those who use umbrellas legally. Every 3 or 4 months my local Walmart runs out of parasols I need to function in society…Lace….and it’s very popular to pass it around to those who don’t need it for cramming exams. I mean it is almost as bad as the Crystal Meth problem in Oregon.

iambinarymind (profile) says:

Attorney Genitals

So tired of these Attorney Genitals and their freedom crushing ways.

If one find the mug offensive, here’s an idea, DON’T SHOP THERE!

I look forward to the day the state disintegrates and said attorney genitals become obsolete…the day where a majority of individuals understand that complex social issues cannot be solved through state force/violence/aggression (or threat thereof).

I prefer consensual relationships and voluntary exchange.

Bumed says:

Re: Re:

Well that sucks.
Amazon canceled my order 🙁

————- Begin message ————-

We’re sorry, but due to the restrictions of CA Prop. 65, we are not allowed to ship this item to the State of California. Unfortunately, this means your item/order will be need to be canceled.

————- End message ————-

DSchneider (profile) says:

Re: Re: New Advertising Slogan

Then don’t buy it. If humor had to steer clear of anything that might have possibly hurt/damaged/offended someone in the past, then all we’d have left if knock-knock jokes. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in that world.

There are plenty of things in this world that I find offensive, weird, or in bad taste, etc. My solution is to simply not buy/watch/support those things. It’s not to try an magically make those things disappear and deprive them from those who enjoy them, as I’m sure there are many things that I and yes, you enjoy, that others don’t like.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Jokes

The issue is that the state of Ohio has the highest reported amount of recreational prescription medication use related deaths in the nation. You would not believe the amount of potential clients I had who thought I had an MD thinking that psychiatry = psychology and faking their disorders during Ohio State’s final exams. It was unbelievable!

I grew up in Mount Vernon and two close friends of mine died due to recreational use of prescription medications.

Furthermore, Mike DeWine has a huge sense of humor and judging by his usually jovial disposition, this coffee mug was not questioned without sufficient reason. The problem has hit my state hard.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Jokes

The issue is that the state of Ohio has the highest reported amount of recreational prescription medication use related deaths in the nation

So? What does that have to do with these products?

Furthermore, Mike DeWine has a huge sense of humor and judging by his usually jovial disposition, this coffee mug was not questioned without sufficient reason.

If this is true, he should share the sufficient reason with us, because the reason he gave is bogus.

In the end, though, I don’t really blame the AGs. Being a humorless prick seems to come with the job. I blame Urban Outfitters for caving to their request.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Jokes

The issue is that the state of Ohio
has the highest reported amount of
recreational prescription medication use
related deaths in the nation.

That’s an issue, but it’s not the issue here. The issue here is that government using its weight and authority in an attempt to chill free speech merely because one of its officials (in his own words) doesn’t find it funny.

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