August 9, 2012

"This is a store that sells 300 rolls of toilet paper at the same time."

"And I say any customer that buys 300 rolls of toilet paper deserves a funny book to sit on the toilet and read."

Joan Rivers protests Costco, which banned her book, supposedly because of 2 "parody quotes" from Marie Antoinette and Wilt Chamberlain.

Is this like the fake Bob Dylan quotes that led to the publisher's pulling copies of Jonah Lehrer's "Imagine"?

But a comedy book is different from the kind of nonfiction pop science stuff that's written by semi-serious authors like Jonah Lehrer — the Malcolm Gladwell-type book. Comic writers make up quotes all the time. Is the Onion in trouble? They're always running with fake quotes, like, for example, Michele Bachmann expressing relief that "not a single American died" in the recent temple shooting. It should be okay in the realm of comedy. People get what comedy is, especially when there's a well-known it's-a-joke brand like "The Onion" plastered on it. Except they don't.

People can be pretty dumb. Should we set up the world for the safety of the dumb?

49 comments:

Matthew Sablan said...

Things that are too good to check should be checked, thoroughly. People just need to get embarrassed once or twice for that lesson to sink in.

But, yeah. When a comedian makes up a quote, I don't react the same as when a serious author or journalist made up a quote. They have completely different goals.

Oso Negro said...

No need to set the world up for the safety of the dumb. It is the tyranny of the dumb that I find so terribly distressing. Well, that, plus the occasionally indecipherable proofs that I am not a robot. Just failed the first attempt and I am no robot.

gerry said...

But...but now it's offensive to be offended!

dbp said...

" Should we set up the world for the safety of the dumb? "

What do you mean, "Should we"? We have been doing this for some time. Seatbelt and helmet laws are exactly about preventing dumb people from doing dumb things.

Jim said...

"Should we set up the world for the safety of the dumb?"

Umm, have you seen the warning messages on consumer products these days?

traditionalguy said...

Joan Rivers tries to be offensive as possible. Well, it worked. They threw her out.

Bachmann is also intentionally offensive to get attention. But we give her a pass for being such an east parody target. She earns the SNL lifetime achievement award.

Nonapod said...

My favorite product warning label can be found on a bottle of Windex: "To avoid eye injury, do not spray directly in eyes."

Peter said...

I read the book and I don't understand why Costco doesn't sell it. But, it's certainly not "censorship"-- there's lots of things Costco does not sell.

I am glad my copy came from a public library- that way I only wasted time on it and not money.

I kept waiting for it to be funny, or at least interesting. I was still waiting when I came to the last page.

Christy said...

" Should we set up the world for the safety of the dumb? "

Haven't tort lawyers insured that the world is set up for the safety of the dumb.

I Callahan said...

People can be pretty dumb. Should we set up the world for the safety of the dumb?

No. Let them experience the consequences of their stupidity; it'll teach them to be less dumb next time.

netmarcos said...

My favorite warning of late is from the new Ford commercials where the new car owner slides back into their driveway(sideways) from the dealership lot. The tag at the bottom of the screen reads, " Vehicle movement simulated. Do not attempt."

The all-time winner in my book goes to the old warning on Pop-Tarts from years back that said, "Caution: May be hot when heated."

Tim said...

"People can be pretty dumb. Should we set up the world for the safety of the dumb?"

Well, how would one go about disenfranchising all the Obama voters?

That's just about the dumbest thing that's happened in America over the last four years of real consequence.

Tim said...

"No. Let them experience the consequences of their stupidity; it'll teach them to be less dumb next time."

I really wish that were true, but observed experience - 1) repeat offenders in prison, 2) Democrat voters, to take two obvious examples - suggests that stupid people are far too often immune to the lessons of their stupidity.

harrogate said...

"They're always running with fake quotes, like, for example, Michele Bachmann expressing relief that 'not a single American died' in the recent temple shooting."

Although, as is so often the case with the Onion--by design--it is less funny than it at first appears, considering how unsurprised most everyone would be, were this quote real.

dbp said...

Christy said...
"" Should we set up the world for the safety of the dumb? "

Haven't tort lawyers insured that the world is set up for the safety of the dumb."

Tort lawyers, along with idiot judges and idiot juries have certainly made it rewarding to harm yourself. This has prodived a stron incentive for businesses of all kinds to make their products idiot-proof.

dbp said...

Here is the missing "g"

edutcher said...

It's their store, they get to pick the merchandise they sell.

I'm betting Ms Rivers' book isn't blowing off the shelves anywhere.

jimbino said...

You ask if we should set up the world for the safety of the dumb. We have already made Amerika into a place safe for children, what with all the censorship of radio, TV, movies, libraries and such.

Now if all these could also manage to keep children dumb, we could do away with our expensive public schools.

elkh1 said...

Should we set up the world for the safety of the dumb?

We already have.

F said...

"Should we set up the world for the safety of the dumb" -- you mean outlaw Mega Million and other forms of lottery?

Freeman Hunt said...

Our local paper once published a story from The Onion about Fixin's being added to the food pyramid. Heh.

Pogo said...

Hate crime laws are safety for the dumb and easily offended.

But I repeat myself.

So gay marriage will of necessity devolve into disagreement with gay marriage becoming a hate crime, setting up the world for the safety of the dumb.

They don't get jokes and they don't get disagreement.

Bob Ellison said...

The divider between comedy and commentary is imperfect. Jon Stewart of The Daily Show keeps hiding behind the "it's comedy!" curtain. He says the newspeople he ridicules should be circumspect, but he can say anything, because it's comedy.

Rush Limbaugh, I think, would say "it's entertainment". Doesn't matter whether it's on the front page of the NYT or the WSJ, or on the Onion or the National Lampoon. It's entertainment.

Saying "I wasn't serious!" is only a partial defense.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Jim,

Umm, have you seen the warning messages on consumer products these days?

Indeed. I think a threshold was passed when the manufacturer of an iron felt it necessary to say that it's not a good idea to iron your clothing while wearing it.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Costco probably doesn't want to sell Joan River's book, because they need the space for items that people will actually BUY.

They are in the business of moving merchandise, not a storage facility for items that are not going to generate revenue. It is all about inventory turn and not about soothing the ruffled feathers of some has been hack of a comedian.

I LOVE Costco and shop there monthly for BIG amounts of various supplies and good bargains. Last month I bought twoof these for only $15.00 each!! SCORE!!!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Warning on a windshield sun protection screen. Remove before operating vehicle. DOH..

There are many websites that have lists of these warnings. Link I try to imagine the stupidity in the first place that caused these warnings to be put on the products.

Pogo said...

Mike Royko knew that getting your book banned somewhere was a good way to increase sales, so he begged for it.

Also sprach Joanathustra

Carnifex said...

Man! I thought my wife blew through the toilet paper! Glad I ain't married to someone who needs 300 rolls a shot. Oh!...wait....the blog is about dumb peo...never mind.

Amexpat said...

It's not that uncommon for people to believe an Onion article when not presented as humor.

This Onion article, "Area Man Proudly Accepts Exit-Row Responsibilities" was linked to in an online travel forum that was discussing that subject. Quite a number of posters responded as if it were a true story, which was almost as funny as the article itself.

Randomscrub said...

This article:

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2012/08/07/comedian-joan-rivers-protests-outside-costco-in-burbank-over-alleged-book-ban/

seems to imply that it was not the falsity of the fake quotes that Costco objected to, but rather that they contained profanity and were on the rear cover.

Mary Beth said...

What does she know? The packages of toilet paper are only 30 rolls.

We will know that society is truly set up for stupid people when the greeter at Costco says, "Welcome to Costco, I love you." (Idiocracy)

Mary Beth said...

There's an Onion-like site for military news - duffelblog.com - that fooled some sites (Gizmodo was one) into believing that the army was putting a tomahawk bayonet on rifles.

wyo sis said...

Is this a parody?

Rusty said...

Should we set up the world for the safety of the dumb?





Nothing is foolproof. Nature keeps coming up with more persistent fools.

Alex said...

So basically Joan Rivers is telling us how super-elite she is that she doesn't have to go down to Costco to buy toilet paper. No way Jose! She doesn't even have to wipe her golden ass, she hasn't even had a bowel movement in 50 years.

Rabel said...

Rivers on being fat in her youth:

"Fat wasn’t a condition, it was a way of life. In Girl Scouts, they had to let out my tent. I made Amos famous. I considered M&M’s one of the food groups. On my first day of summer camp I said, “Where should I put my trunk?” The counselor said, “Wrap it around your tusks.” A rapist grabbed me, took a look and said, “Maybe we could just be friends.” My boyfriend needed a Sherpa to climb on top of me. I was the only person who ran with the bulls carrying a bottle of A.1 Steak Sauce. My husband used to dress me with his eyes. I sat shiva when my neighborhood Arby’s closed.
And you wonder why I’m bitter?"

Carnifex said...

Let's face it the last time Joan Rivers made someone laugh she was asking for a charity#$%^. Can we talk? Joan Rivers has had so many face lifts she has a beard. The last time some went "round the world" on Joan Rivers it took them eighty days. The last time Joan Rivers had relations with a man it took 24 hours...he grabbed the Polygrip, instead of the KY. Speaking of which...Joan Rivers called the KY Jelly Corp. to complain it added no flavor to her toast. When Joan Rivers takes a dump, she leaves dust bunnies.

Carnifex said...

I kid...because I can(what is that in latin?)

Methadras said...

No, in fact the world shouldn't stand in the way of letting people be as dumb as they want to be and when they realize how stupid they are, we shouldn't be obligated to take care of their stupidity for them.

rhhardin said...

I just bought 50 rolls of my favorite paper towel, biking them home an 8-pack at a time.

Christy said...

Doesn't protecting dumb people make Gaia angry?

Steven said...

I think for something to be considered a "lie," it should not only be something that a person knows is false but says is true, it should also be reasonable to expect that listeners will believe it to be true.

Marie Antoinette is obviously not alive and wikipedia tells me that Wilt is dead, too -- I don't know how many people would have to look that up -- so, especially if the Chamberlain quote is sufficiently ludicrous, a made-up quote on the back of what is clearly an attempted-humor book shouldn't really count as a lie.

Of course, if Costco wants to exclude it because they don't think it's clear that those are fake quotes, or because they are profane and on the cover, or because there's insufficient demand for the book, or any combination of the three, I can't really find fault.

I do think contemporary American society does too much to protect people from themselves, but I'm not sure making parody costly (e.g., by requiring that it be really, really obvious and excluding it from some spheres altogether) fits into that category because I'm not sure the purpose of such a restriction is to protect the stupid people. For example, if Michelle Bachmann loses reelection because some of her constituents believe she said something she didn't, that doesn't just hurt those constituents, that hurts all of us who depend on Bachmann's valuable contributions to the House.

Actually, I'm not sure that's the best example for my case, but I hope my point is clear.

Rabel said...

Here we go. The back cover quotes:

Wilt Chamberlain: ‘Even if I were alive I wouldn’t fuck her.’

Marie Antoinette: ‘I don’t like her. Let her eat shit.’

Methadras said...

Christy said...

Doesn't protecting dumb people make Gaia angry?


lol, only if you think Gaia is real.

Methadras said...

I do have to say that I love Joan Rivers.

MikeinAppalachia said...

RH-
So your 7th trip was only 1/4 of the way home?

Baron Zemo said...

Ann Althouse said..
People can be pretty dumb. Should we set up the world for the safety of the dumb?

My dear lady is that not the way your run your comments section?

Otherwise why would you ban so many and delete their comments so freely?

Ha! You are so droll!

drunkdebunker said...

Once in a Facebook argument I had 3different liberals quote SNL lines from the Bush and Palin impersonators, believing they were true quotes from Sarah and W. Democrat party = the evil leading the ignorant.

R.L. Hunter said...

"Should we set up the world for the safety of the dumb?"

I am of the opinion that all safety devices and warning labels should be removed from all consumer products.

Let the idiots kill themselves and clean up the gene pool.