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You Are Dumb, which is not a blog, posts new columns every weekday, except for a couple of days each month when it doesn't. It is also a Twitter feed, @youaredumb, with content in a similar vein but much shorter. My spinoff food site, Forkbastard, can be found easily enough by the clever.
Archive - Jan 10, 2005
Memo to Kansas: THANK YOU TOO.
I mean, I hate you on general principle, because you exist, and because you exist, odds are you're going to pull something stupid. So if I get a tiny bit of hate worked up in advance, I'll be ready for when it happens, and won't have to start from scratch.
If I think about Kansas, I don't have to think about the Department of Justice, and how it really doesn't matter that we've gotten Ashcroft out, and it doesn't really matter that we're going to get Gonzalez in, because the department's been staffed with complete assholes who can screw things up without a right-wing nutjob AG to guide them.
I mean, somehow, between Lost To A Corpse and Torture's Just Dandy, they managed to put out a set of new guidelines for dealing with rape victims. This new guideline, in what is obviously a sop to the rabid, pro-life, soul-at-conception, science-fearing, ignorant base, omits any mention of emergency contraception. You know, that dose of oral contraceptives that might help to keep the RAPE VICTIM from having to be punished for the rest of her life by having to carry and bear the child of the guy who RAPED her. Ninety percent of the 25,000 pregnancies from rape each year could be prevented by emergency contraception, but the Department of Justice doesn't think that maybe rape victims should have this mentioned to them. Or have the pills available. Because some people believe that in very rare cases, the pregnancy is prevented after conception instead of before.
That level of administrative, bureaucratic, misogynistic brutality borders on the unthinkable, so I'm not going to think about it any more, because Kansas has a new state slogan, and it is DUMB.
I mean, I understand why language Nazis and that other state were upset with the old slogan "Kansas: Not AR-Kansas, Thank Fuck", but that doesn't excuse the final result.
"Kansas: As Big As You Think"
The new slogan is the product of the Kansas Image Task Force, which, let's face it, had their fucking work cut out for them. Kansas' sole claim to fame comes from The Wizard of Oz, where it's portrayed as a bleak, colorless wasteland you must leave in order to find color, excitement, and adventure, and that you only return to because you have relatives that live there. I, myself, am having a bit of a tough time coming up with potential Kansas slogans. "Kansas: That Rectangular One Right In the Middle. No, That's Colorado. One To The Right." They'd need a bigger billboard.
But "Kansas: As Big As You Think" is fatally flawed from start to finish as an advertising slogan. First, the whole point of these tourism campaigns is to trick people into thinking there's more about a state than they know. Like those awful Texas commercials that make you think rednecks in cowboy hats love eating sushi and taking ecstasy. The new Kansas slogan tells people, in essence, "Kansas: Yeah, You're Right." Not bigger than you think. Not more interesting than you think. Precisely the same size as you thought it was. "Honey, let's go to Kansas this year! I hear its total geographical area in square miles is remarkably close to my own impressions and estimates!"
But more importantly, who the fuck thinks of Kansas in the first place? People who are in Kansas are trying NOT to think of it, and you can't entice them to come to Kansas when they're already there. The rest of us do not think of Kansas at all, unless we're watching the Wizard of Oz, and then, all we're thinking is "Man, I don't remember this opening section being this long. I'm going downstairs. Yell when the Munchkins show up." So, upon hearing that Kansas is as big as they think, America's non-Kansas-contemplating population will pause briefly, then go about their business. They will not start planning vacations to Topeka.
But what You Are Dumb about a crappy decision would be complete without the desperate spin of doomed PR-types trying to justify the awful job they've done? ACTUAL QUOTE TIME: It's funnier than you think.
"It's not just a slogan. It's not just tourism. It's economic development, job creation and business attraction.� - Richard Forester, Task Force member. I can only conclude from this that Kansas will be resorting to cannibalism within six months.
"I like it as a metaphor: wide-open spaces, there's a lot of opportunity, that big things can happen. It's larger-than-life. That's very positive." - Kevin Keller, marketing professor, Dartmouth University. It's not larger than life, it's bigger than thought, and if we've proven one thing here over the past year, it's that thought isn't very big.
KANSAS: Not Quite Infinitesimal!