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What the fucking hell was he thinking?

Here's a pretty old legacy post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 21 years ago, in 2001, on the World Wide Web.

(link provided courtesy of one angry girl)

Brothers in Spirit

photo: James Doolin and Ron Jeremy yuk it up at domestic violence

Domestic Violence: endorsed by dipshit porn stars

photo: Members of Delta Sigma Phi at Auburn University yuk it up at Klan lynchings

The Klan: endorsed by dipshit frat boys

The day after I had a perfectly lovely evening watching the vigilante-feminist classic Girls Town, and on what had been a perfectly good morning of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, I had my day ruined by this. It is such a fucking insult to the simple decency and intelligence of humankind that I can barely convince myself that it is real and not some kind of ill-conceived feminist parody. James Doolin of Dallas has set up Wife-Beaters.com T-shirts, an online catalogue selling white undershirts (often called wifebeaters) with the words Wife Beater across the breast of the shirt. The festive website features a posed background image of a man spanking a woman in his wife beater shirt, Prodigy’s song Smack My Bitch Up blaring in the background, a Wife Beater Hall of Fame including celebrity batterers, rapists, and murderers such as Ike Turner, Mike Tyson, John Wayne Bobbit, and O.J. Simpson. I wish to God I were making this up—as added jokes Doolin offers a Lil’ Beater shirt for infants, and offers a special rewarding convicted batterers: he will send a second shirt at half price if you enclose proof of a domestic violence offense you committed.

Look, I know this dipshit is trying to be provocative. I know that he’s exploiting controversy to sell his dumb-assed product. But what the fuck is wrong with him that he could possibly even begin to think this is remotely amusing? Listen, in the United States there are three times more shelters for animals than there are for battered women. One out of every four women will suffer partner violence in her lifetime. The overwhelming majority of murders, stalkings, rapes, assaults, and all other forms of violence against women are committed by their partners or spouses. I have seen domestic violence inflicted on too many people I love—a friend’s sister was sent to the emergency room by her stepfather beating the shit out of her; in my own family, a cousin and aunt of mine were viciously beaten by a motherfucker who thought wife beating was not a big deal. And Doolin thinks that this is all hy-larious? Look, bucko, not everything is a joke. This shit has a very real, blood-soaked, meaning. And I wish I had some words other than inarticulate swearing to express how horrendous, how enraging this is. I’m sure it’s really fucking funny to you, Doolin. We’ll see how funny it is when it’s someone you love in the emergency room.

For further reading:

Take action! Write James Doolin at his oh-so-droll e-mail address bruised@wife-beaters.com and let him know exactly what you think of him. Then, go to StopFamilyViolence for what you can do to help stop domestic violence. Finally, if you have any money, please consider contributing to the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence or your own state’s chapter of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence so that they can continue to do their life-saving work in providing safehouses for battered women.

18 replies to What the fucking hell was he thinking? Use a feed to Follow replies to this article

  1. S.R. Prozak

    This is what happens when you give people civil liberties. Deal with it! It’s not any less funny than the idiot stuff they spew on television to keep your mind off the damage humanity is doing to its environment. Why make an issue of it, except that it hit one of your hot buttons?

· July 2002 ·

  1. evelyn

    This site glorifies violence and oppression. It is an insult to women, children, and families.

· September 2002 ·

  1. Charles W. Johnson

    S.R. Prozak confuses two statements:

    1. James Doolin has a legal right to produce “wife beater” shirts. He should not be arrested for doing it.

    2. James Doolin has a moral right to produce “wife beater” shirts. He should not be criticized for doing it.

    1 is true; 2 is not only false, but stupid.

    The reason that we should get pissed off about Doolin’s t-shirt is that, well, gee, 1 in 4 women is subjected to partner violence in our society. It’s one of the single biggest human rights issues that we as a society face. To profiteer off making light of it, and glorifying batterers, is not just crass and stupid; it’s simply evil.

— 2003 —

  1. ribbler

    he has the right of free speech..and because you dont like it ..thats too bad that the law…forget it go on with life you guys dont have anything to do…..get a life and let people have fun..thats what it is fun you have your sence of hum..we have ours…hail to wife beaters

  2. ribbler

    he has the right of free speech..and because you dont like it ..thats too bad that the law…forget it go on with life you guys dont have anything to do…..get a life and let people have fun..thats what it is fun you have your sence of hum..we have ours…hail to wife beaters

  3. chipmonkrocks

    SO I typed into my search engine, “why is terrorism so damn funny” and this site came up. And the T-shirt thing is a good Idea because it is funny and makes cash. Maybe what we should do is censor this, and kill the “EEEEEVIL” perpitrator of such hilarity. Or maybe, just maybe, we should put our tongue in cheek for just one split second.

  4. Charles W. Johnson

    In spite of my message above which explicitly makes this same point, ribbler and chipmonkrocks again confuse the same two points that S.R. Prozak seems to confuse above:

    1. James Doolin has a legal right to produce stupid shirts making fun of domestic violence. He should not be arrested for it.

    2. James Doolin has a moral right to produce stupid shirts making fun of domestic violence. He should not be criticized for it.

    1 is true. 2 is false, and stupid.

    Now, ribbler and chipmonkrocks both seem to believe that 2 is true, because stupid shirts making fun of domestic violence are, in fact, funny. My sense of humor is, perhaps, different from theirs. For example, I find the characters in the Simpsons funny. They, on the other hand, think it’s really fun to print out a white t-shirt with “wife beater” printed on it and advertise it on a website with homages to batterers, rapists, and murderers. Similarly, I did not find it funny when a bunch of white frat boys at Auburn staged a mock lynching at their Halloween party a couple of years ago. Maybe I’m just a humorless scold, and if I had any sense I would yuk it up with intelligent, sensitive folks like ribbler and chipmonkrocks. Nevertheless, I have to say, I’m having a good deal more fun being the way I am.

    -C

  5. riotgrrl

    Charles is right in what he says, but so are the other guys. Now I have personally met Mr. Doolin, and I can tell you that he is a businessman, plain and simple. He caught on to a particular cultural colloquialism and saw that he could make some money off of it. Having spoken to him, he is well aware that his product is offensive to some people, and his intention is not to propigate violence, domestic or otherwise. He thought it was funny. Some people think jokes about other races or cultures are funny. Some people think making fun of disabled people is funny. Hell, I’m paralyzed, and I think jokes about disabled people are funny. To label this man as “evil” though… I believe that’s taking tihngs a bit too far. Sure, he’s crass and juvenille, but evil? That’s interesting, because Hitler called the Jews “Evil” because they were Jewish. During the Crusades, the Pope labeled the Moors “evil.” My own parents believe, because my life does not fit in their rigid set of standards, that I am evil. Anytime anyone wants to make an accusation that strong, they’d damn well better be prepared to look in a mirror and evaluate their own life.

    Osama Bin Laden is evil for murdering thousands of innocent people. Saddam Hussein and his sons are evil for torturing and murdering innocent people. Hitler was evil for attempting genocide. The popes who propigated 400 years of warfare and genocide in the name of their god were evil. James Doolin is just an a-hole who’s trying to sell some some shirts.

    I asked him how many “convicted wife-beaters” he has had take advantage of his special offer. To date, none.

    I guess my point is that if you wanna rage against this guy and what he’s doing, fine. More power to you. Just don’t think it’s going to do anything other than vent some emotion, ’cause as long as the shirts sell, Mr. Doolin is going to keep offering them. It’s free-enterprise at it’s best, and that is 100% American.

    Voltaire said “I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death to defend your right to say it.” Charles, and all the rest who have criticized Mr. Doolin, I ask you a question. Would you be willing to follow Voltaire’s philosophy, in regards to Mr. Doolin?

  6. Charles W. Johnson

    riotgrrl posted several comments in response to me, and apparently to those who have posted critical feedback on this story. However, I have trouble untangling just what her position is.

    1. riotgrrl says that Doolin is “a businessman, plain and simple” and that “as long as the shirts sell, Mr. Doolin is going to keep offering them. It’s free-enterprise at its best, and that is 100% American.” But if the shirts are (as I claim) crude, offensive, stupid, and glorifications of violence that is literally killing women as we speak, is it any defense for what Mr. Doolin is doing that he is profiteering off of it?

    2. riotgrrl agrees with me that Doolin is “crass and juvenile” but is concerned about my characterization of him as “evil.” She states that Hitler called the Jews “evil,” and that the Popes who preached the Crusades called the Moors “evil.” (N.B.: actually, the Arabs. Moors were Muslims, mainly Arabs and Berbers, not from Palestine, but from North Africa. The word is a corruption of “Morocco.”) In any case, she then goes on to call several people evil herself. I can’t fault her choices; Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Hitler, and the Crusades certainly all were evil. She seems to think it is inflation to call what Mr. Doolin is doing evil. But I hardly think it is. Violence against women and girls is thoroughly, wretchedly, miserably evil. The battery, rape, and murder of women in the United States occurs on a scale that is vast and harrowing: men murder literally thousands of women every year in domestic violence incidents. If that’s not evil, I don’t know what is. Mr. Doolin’s crass, offensive, juvenile little “joke” glorifies the perpetrators of that violence and profiteers off of cultural institutions attached to it. I don’t know what to call that, other than being evil. James Doolin is just a rotten person.

    3. riotgrrl says that Mr. Doolin’s intent is not to propagate violence. He just thinks that the shirts are funny, and he likes making money off of them. I have no reason to doubt her account of Mr. Doolin’s intentions, but I do doubt that it’s terribly relevant. If Mr. Doolin’s best attributes are that he is a merely crass boor who intends to make a buck off jokes about battery and murder, then I can’t see how that makes what he is doing even remotely OK.

    4. riotgrrl says that “if you wanna rage against this guy and what he’s doing, fine. More power to you. Just don’t think it’s going to do anything other than vent some emotion, ’cause as long as the shirts sell, Mr. Doolin is going to keep offering them.” I’m not sure what she means by “do anything” here. I certainly didn’t imagine that posting an angry tirade on an obscure corner of the web in the middle of an anarchist weblog was going to have any great effect on the world. At most, I hope that Mr. Doolin got a few more angry letters to add to the pile, and maybe that a few people might have gone to http://www.stopfamilyviolence.org or contributed to their states’ coalition against domestic violence. If I could do something to persuade Mr. Doolin to stop being an asshole, then I would do it, but I’m not aware of what that would be. The point of the story was to offer a criticism and to call attention to certain realities about the world (i.e., that domestic violence is a big problem and that there are assholes like this out there) that we too often forget. That’s free speech at its best, and that is 100% American.

    5. riotgrrl cites Voltaire’s apocryphal dictum (“I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death to defend your right to say it”). Voltaire did not actually say this, but it’s a good quote regardless of who said it first. She asks if I would be willing to follow this dictum in regards to Mr. Doolin. Of course I would; as I said several times earlier, I don’t dispute that Mr. Doolin has every legal right to make these shirts. If he were arrested for doing that, it would be a grave injustice, and an assault on basic liberties. But whether or not Mr. Doolin has a legal right to produce these shirts was never in question. What is at issue is that Doolin has no moral right to do so, that what he is doing makes him a rotten person, and that he roundly deserves pretty much any vituperative words that can be thrown at him. Some previous respondants, such as “ribbler” and “chipmonkrocks” seemed to dispute that claim; but riotgrrl seems to agree that Mr. Doolin is, quote, an “a-hole.” So I’m not sure what the disagreement is between her and me on this particular point.

  7. shiet

    You are probably some unknown feminist to go as far as pin pointing this particular picture and targeting James Doolin.After you roosted yourself on women’s rights and Violence against women, you went right for someone to blame – any man with something humorous or non humorous that had something to do with women that you found degrading.How typical of you.I guess I should find one of many t shirts with themes like “just in it for his money” or some other she goddess ego power puff for example and then relate it to a violent homocide case where divorce wasnt something she considered.But if I did that I’d just be another nobody sexist like you.Stop hating folks and get real.This is humor because we know he isnt going to go beat up his wife.But you’re right, men are murderers and beaters, lets label them all.But how about the abortion clinics, women so in a rush to extinguish human life, they will go as far as having young babies’s brains probed with a suction device, and then have it vacuumed out of their tiny skulls while still alive until they finally die of extreme trauma from pain.Oh yeah you go girl.Just another loser hater sexist bashing someone else.You people make me sick.

  8. Stiven

    GET A LIFE, how about this just because a shirt says murder one for me and has a picture of a white male being shot, this wouldn’t have gotten any attention at all but because it had to do with women they meaning women had to find something to btch about like always, you want equal rights but then the next sentence is that you want privileges above and beyond what a male would get, listen how about this why don’t you stop btchin for once and just deal with it, my god grow up for christ sakes

  9. S.R. Prozak

    Silly, no two statements are confused – that’s an analysis of the psychology behind such a statement, not its methodology.

— 2004 —

  1. Discussed at www.radgeek.com

    Geekery Today:

    Kiss-Off

    I suppose that somone is going to tell me about how I need to lighten up and have a good laugh at this. The cutting edge in humor at class establishments like Virgin Airways Even though they allow for high-volume…

— 2005 —

  1. boitchick

    Hey there! I just want to say that while you are right on some points I think you take things slightly too personally. I can’t say for sure, but my view on the Ron Jeremy thing, after having met him and spent a little time with him, is that whom ever thinks he was being insensitive just doesn’t know Ron. He’s a sweet guy who does what pleases his fans. The guy in the picture probabally made this shirt for Ron and to show his appreciation Ron slipped it on and took a picture in it. I’m certian he didn’t mean any harm, or to offend anyone. That’s just the way dear little Ron is, he’s a people pleaser, he’ll do what you ask, all he wants in return is to see you smile. So to whomever is offended by this picture I’m sorry. I know Ron wasn’t trying to hurt anyone’s feelings. He just loves everyone that loves him.

  2. etcetera

    i think these shirts are really great… not only are they an excellent tool to help people to read, but they do a great job of raising awareness and provoking spontaneous dialogue on social issues. also they may help establish worthwhile targets for otherwise randomly distributed projectiles. big props to this guy for helping make the world a better place. and yes i really mean that.

— 2006 —

  1. emcb

    Your gender is as much an accident of birth as your color or creed is. If someone produced Black or Jew beater T shirts theyd be prosecuted under race hate legislation.

— 2008 —

  1. Tom

    Why is the picture of the dumb frat boys associated with Delta Sigma Phi. Every time I do a Google search that picture pops up and has nothing to do with Delta Sigma Phi.

  2. Rad Geek

    Tom,

    The picture comes up when you search for Delta Sigma Phi because it is a picture from a Delta Sigma Phi Halloween party that took place at Auburn University. It was national news at the time, and pretty widely discussed on the Internet; hence the search engine results.

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