This time, O’Neill has decided that Topman should be selling misogynistic T-shirts, and that feminists have no sense of humour. To answer the second charge first, here is a joke:
What’s the difference between Brendan O’Neill and a weeping syphilitic chode?
It might need some work, but it’s a damn sight funnier than the T-shirts in question, and that’s already one joke more than O’Neill’s opinion piece had.
Of the Topman T-shirts in question, one uses dehumanising language, and the other refers to male-on-female intimate partner violence. O’Neill doesn’t even bother talking about the dehumanising T-shirt, despite the fact that use of dehumanising language is pretty fucking dangerous, with real-world implications, and is literally just hate speech. To defend the other T-shirt, O’Neill attempts to wiggle about with semantics:
A young man could just as easily say the words “I’m sorry but I was drunk” to another young man, after an argument or a fight or something.
That could happen. But the whole “joke” of the T-shirt is that it refers to beating women. Without the stereotype it primes, it is no longer a controversial joke, and it simply becomes a checklist. Which is a fairly pointless T-shirt, all things considered. Consider, for example, a T-shirt that is laid out similarly that says “I hate you because…  You run fast  You eat a lot of fried chicken  You always die first in movies”. Would this T-shirt be considered racist? I’d say so, but according to Brendan O’Neill, that T-shirt is fine and dandy.
O’Neill’s article also demonstrates that while a weeping syphilitic chode can write–presumably, with infected pus dripping from chancre to keyboard–a weeping syphilitic chode cannot read. O’Neill denies that there can possibly be any cultural explanation for violence. Now, while the extent to which the media influences violence is equivocal, what is clear is that there is some link. Discussion should focus on what action is acceptable to take, rather than whether the link exists at all. That’s where O’Neill really falls flat. He is so interested in flatly denying any link he does not discuss this at all. And it’s an issue that warrants discussion–should Topman have pulled those T-shirts?
There are a number of issues which could have been discussed were O’Neill up for talking about Topman T-shirts, rather than working out his issues with feminists in a public domain (in general, he’s not keen on feminists, because they think he’s a prick). O’Neill touches on class, completely wrongly:
That’s because they are driven by the elitist belief that there are some people out there (whisper it: working-class lads) who cannot distinguish right from wrong and therefore must have their eyes and ears protected from poisonous words.
Now, here, O’Neill is wrong on several counts–and he can’t help it, seeing as he is a penis that is wider than it is long, infected with The Great Pox to the extent that he oozes unpleasant fluids. Topman is not a shop for working class people: its goods are far too expensive for that. Furthermore, those T-shirts are indicative of hipster irony, a subculture which once again is not associated with working class people. This analysis is completely off.
Capitalism could legitimately be brought into this discussion: ultimately, these T-shirts were pulled not because of feminist censorship, but because of good old-fashioned brand damage. Topman didn’t want to lose customers, so they decided to pull the T-shirts, as they realised the products were somewhat controversial in the sort of way that could lose them a lot of money. Essentially, it was not the feminists who censored free speech. It was Topman making a decision in their corporate interests.
For what it’s worth, I want people to be free to wear this sort of T-shirt. It is a nice little at-a-glance indicator that the person wearing the T-shirt is an interminable cuntspanner. I would like them to do, as O’Neill suggests, a “blokestrut” wearing such T-shirts. One thing I would change? The name.
I think a “chodeweep” is much more fitting.