Monthly Archives: March 2016

A New Bus Ride

A doll with measles?  Or a colostomy bag? I’m talking here about a whole a new bus ride.

Aficionados of “critical offense studies” (henceforth, COS) will know the reference. In one of the very few books to analyze the concept of offense (and its cognate “offensiveness”), the late Joel Feinberg in Offense to Others (see Bibliography tab) asked his readers to imagine taking a series of bus rides, outlined in a hierarchy of offensive sights or actions. Continue reading

Harvard Law School Shears Its Shield

After months of study, a Harvard Law School committee recommended to Dean Martha Minow on March 3 that the School jettison a shield it has used for 80 years because it is based on the crest of a slave-holding family that helped prompt the School’s establishment. Dean Minow has endorsed the recommendation, which can be acted on only by the Harvard Corporation, the university’s governing body. Continue reading

Wanted: Zombies without a Past

Offense of the Month: March 2016
Whatever you do, don’t do it. At least if you’re a retailer that, let’s say, sells bathing suits, polo shirts, mittens, and whatnot.

Lands’ End thought to boost sales by touting in its catalog legendary people who would smile on the brand in return for a nod to their causes. Nothing really controversial. Feel good stuff that large numbers of potential customers would appreciate. Sure.

The first such Legend (and now probably the last) was Gloria Steinem, who talked very briefly about working on behalf of women’s equality. Not a word in the published interview about abortion rights. Nevertheless, customers complained that Steinem was an inappropriate designee because of her pro-choice stance over the years. In late February, to quell what she feared was growing outrage, Lands’ End CEO Federica Marchionni apologized, disavowing any intent “to raise a divisive political or religious issue.” But when she erased all digital traces of the interview, the company was flooded with even more angry messages from shoppers who vowed to buy their clothing elsewhere. Said one: “I don’t intend to teach my children that anyone should do business with a company that is ashamed to even talk about feminism.” Continue reading