Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Satirical Mints in Tennessee and Views of Free Speech

From a distance, Tennessee still has the capacity to amaze me with petty silliness. The latest installment comes from the Ville of Knox, where a Tennessee legislator, having nothing better to do, investigated the sale of satirical mints at the University of Tennessee bookstore. Rep. Joe Armstrong, a Democrat, visited the bookstore, bought a tin of mints, and told the director he found the satirical mints poking fun at President Obama to be offensive. The director, willing to please a legislator, promptly pulled the candies.

Well, the satire was a bit heavy-handed. It incorporated on the mints tin can the iconic red-and-blue campaign poster image of the president with the words: "This is change? Disappointmints." Not great satire. I have not tried the mints.

Curiously, the same company also produces mints in cans lampooning George W. Bush and Sarah Palin.

The legislator also asserted that, since the mint tins were not educational materials, there was no breech of the First Amendment. He definitely has a strict view of what constitutes "free speech."

The Knoxville newspaper did not mention if he purchased a book as well as mints.

As a further development, Unemployed Philosophers Guild, the purveyors of the mints, has come out with a new kind of mint: Joe Armstrong's Strong Arm Censored Mints. The company was self-described as "left-leaning."


  1. A legislator visiting a bookstore? Astonishing.

  2. The politician got what he wanted. So did the candy company. The bookstore came out looking wimpy.

  3. Now Gvernor Haslam wants the company to make Haslam's Endorsemints!

  4. Where is the university faculty in this? What about academic freedom; or is that a foreign concept in Tennessee?

  5. I think this happened in between terms.