Sunday, June 12, 2005

Irony deficiency

How masturbatory is blogging for right-wing hotheads? One measure has to be the conservative T-shirt series being advertised on rightist blogs across the Internet.

The t-shirts are modeled by comely, big-breasted young women posing with their arms lifted to enhance the bodacious effect. Slogans on the shirts are intended to skewer liberal ideas and institutions. One, for examples, says: ACLU, Enemy of the State. The C in the initials is replaced with a hammer and sickle.

The ad says the shirts "put Libs in their place without saying a word.'' See other examples at

But what the shirts' makers don't realize is that "Enemy of the State'' is a term of approbation among the vast majority of T-shirt wearing American teens and 20somethings, connoting as it does nonconformity, rebellion and take-no-shit-from-the-man bravado.

Modeling the shirts skin-tight over bulging boobs only inflates their countercultural charisma. How many rock bands, songs and albums have "enemy of the state,'' or a related pun, in their names? Try Googling the phrase. You'll find movies, book titles and so forth, the vast majority of which cast the "enemy" as the hero.

But the blogsters behind the ads seem blissfully unaware of the compliment they're paying the ACLU. If they are aware of the righteous-outlaw chic the phrase embodies, they don't understand how it actually plays to the typical college student, for example. Perhaps, like their patron saint George W. Bush, the right-wing blogsterbators don't read the newspaper and never have.

It is doubtful as well that 40, 50 and 60-somethings will miss the unintended message the shirts convey, given that Stalin pioneered the ''enemy of the state'' label in his ruthless purges of liberals.

The shirt puts liberals in their place all right: in favor of human rights, against statism and smart enough to wield the sharp blade of irony without cutting their own peckers off.

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