from the hawley-shit dept
Josh Hawley, the waifish fascist Senator from Missouri, has made it onto our pages several times in the past. When he’s not advocating breaking up Twitter because he doesn’t like how a private company is run (fascist), or breaking up lots of other companies he simply disagrees with (fascist), you can typically find him pretending the First Amendment works the exact opposite of how it does in reality or explaining in published books and newspaper pages how much he’s been silenced and canceled. It might all look very stupid on its face, but it isn’t. It’s actually quite diabolical.
Hawley is a graduate of both Stanford and Yale. And, sure, you can convince me that someone can graduate from both of those schools somehow while being an idiot, but that’s not Hawley. When he advocates for fascist policies and generally acts like a right-wing radio talk show host, it’s not because he’s stupid. It’s because he’s an assbag.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the Josh Hawley mug he’s selling on his website.
See? He’s an asshole. In case you can’t see the image or don’t know what the issue is, that picture of Hawley was snapped by the AP and was him saluting the crowd of strange people protesting outside the Capital building because their preferred candidate lost. Some of those people later stormed the capital in a violent attempt to overthrow the will of the America people. Now Hawley, in a plain bid to generate outrage, is utilizing that picture of him saluting that crowd in order to raise campaign funds. Immediately after the launch of the mug product, his team sent out an email fundraising on it, apparently purely over the joy of making liberals angry, which appears to be one of Hawley’s major policy positions.
Everyone remembers the photo of profa senator Josh Hawley raising his fist to salute the murderous rioters who stormed the Capitol, injured 150 police officers, and tried to hang Mike Pence. Now Hawley is selling a curiously named “Show Me Strong White Coffee Mug” with the same image in an amateurishly designed graphic.
He says its a “perfect way to enjoy Coffee, Tea, or Liberal Tears!” and is “not a pro-riot mug.”
None of this is new or creative. The liberal tears thing is at least as old as Ben Shapiro saying it all the time and is probably older than that. The slogan is lame. And the picture, as Boing Boing goes on to note, is from the AP.
In addition, his mug uses an image based on an Associated Press photograph and is probably a copyright violation. AP told Rolling Stone that it’s investigating. As you might recall, artist Shepard Fairey used an AP photo of Obama a decade ago, and ended up paying AP an undisclosed amount to settle the copyright lawsuit.
And here is where we take the Techdirt turn. The Fairey case was settled out of court, but we argued all along the way that Fairey’s use should have qualified as fair use. I take the same view of Hawley’s use of an AP photo. The use is for raising campaign funds, rather than purely commercial use. The photo is being used as political speech. It’s at least mildly transformative, although not as strongly as Fairey’s, given that most people will recognize where that image is from. And, ultimately, Hawley’s mug represents zero threat to the AP’s business. The AP isn’t selling mugs with the picture on it to those that wish to drink liberal tears.
So while it’s fun to discuss what a jerk Hawley is, trying to pretend that we think this is copyright infringement just because I don’t like him would be disingenuous. And I, unlike Josh Hawley, am not that.