As someone who has enjoyed giving and receiving bad taste for most of his life, I can only admire the way the Internet has helped break down the barriers of the unacceptable. In particular, the extreme ease with which it lets ideas go from eureka moment to online fact bypasses many of the corporate safeguards that prevent excruciatingly naff concepts from hitting the public eye. Thus we get a joyful double whammy -- an organisation making egregious lapses followed by massive corporate humiliation as it has to back down.
Two examples surface today, and they couldn’t happen to nicer fellows. First of all, Sinn Fein has had to backpedal rapidly on its oh-so-conciliatory Sniper At Work T-shirt, which surfaced in its online store. That went, just as soon as our Celtic cousins -- normally so good with words -- managed to look up ‘commitment’, ‘peace process’, and ‘don’t be such arses, yer eedjits’ in the dictionary.
Second, and much more fun, is the appearance and -- oops -- pulling of the futures market in acts of terrorism, as planned by ex-Admiral John Poindexter. Although impeccable from a theoretical point of view as a mechanism for filtering intelligence through the crucible of money, it was seen as incompatible with a government who equates all things terrorist with Satanic intrigue and godless behaviour: a bit like the Roman Catholic church operating a sweepstake on major sins. Poindexter’s a big favourite in the White House, despite being put away for a while due to all that Contra arms business and despite being behind the PR cock-up that was the Total Information Awareness programme. But even he can’t escape three strikes and you’re out, so this particular episode of immense bad taste comes with a bonus resignation.