Topic: Business & Commercial

Mind Poison

You see, this is why people decide corporations are evil. If someone will buy it, if a profit can be made, too many companies act as if they have no responsibility for the negative attitudes and trends their products may put into motion. Television networks won’t take responsibility for coarsening our language; movie studios feel they have no responsibility for desensitizing us to violence.

Now Urban Outfitters has chosen to make money by promoting the message to kids and teenagers that civic involvement and exercising the rights of democracy are, you know, un-cool. Dorky. For losers.

It is marketing a tee shirt ($28.00, please) with the message, “Voting is for Old People.” The website notes that this is a message with “irony.” Ethics Scoreboard could run off a half dozen other equally objectionable messages with “irony”, but it would be too easy.

Oh, all right, just a coupleÂ…how about “Good Grades are for White Kids”? How about “Prophylactics are for Weenies”? Maybe “Real Men Beat Their Wives”?

This kind of tee shirt isn’t “irony.” It’s throwing gasoline on a serious social problem by ratifying and reinforcing socially damaging attitudes and behaviors. Worst of all, Urban Outfitters knows this, and clearly doesn’t care. After all, the shirts will sell.

Can’t Urban Outfitters come up with products that don’t support attitudes that undermine democracy? Sure they can.

Such irresponsible and unethical conduct gives corporations a bad name. Maybe some of Urban Outfitter’s pals in the business community will point this out to them. As Congress can attest, they can be very persuasive.


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