Opinions

A mistake and an apology

Publication YearIssue Date 

(ed note: Originally posted September 11, 2003)

I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to our readers for an unfortunate oversight. Each of our past two issues (Sept. 4 and Sept. 11) included an ad for the Whiskey nightclub. This ad had an element we missed, an element we should have never allowed to reach print.

Many advertisements take the clichéd approach of objectifying women to sell their product or establishment, and that is their prerogative. However the ad in question took it too far-whether they meant to or not.

In this particular Whiskey ad (page 19 on Sept. 4 and page 18 on Sept. 11), the voluptuous, scantily clad woman is sporting a button on her lapel, a button reading: "Get me drunk and then see what happens."

This is a problem.

It is not a problem isolated to the Whiskey, nor is it a problem isolated to the bar industry. It is a problem we face as a society.

The expression "get me drunk and then see what happens" does not directly promote date rape or taking advantage of incapacitated women, however the idea is strongly implied. This is disgusting. It is disgusting it was considered fit for an advertisement and it is disgusting that I, as Editor-in-Chief, missed it not once, but twice.

Date rape-the idea it is alright to incapacitate someone for the sake of exploiting and/or violating them-is an extremely serious matter, especially within our age group and within the campus community. In the past month, and over the next half year, countless students at the University of Calgary will go out with friends and many of them will get inebriated beyond the point of reason. It may not be pretty, but it is often fun and it is a fact of life.

Propagating the belief it is open season on people no longer able to take care of themselves, even turning a blind eye to that belief, makes us just as guilty as any sexual predator out there. It is easy to dismiss, it is easy to ignore, but it is not something to be taken lightly.

Combating this sickening social plague is not as simple as watching your drink to ensure it doesn't get drugged. Date rape drugs, such as GHB, ketamine, rohypnol and the like, may be better known, however the one drug responsible for the majority of date rapes is the one drug we will all likely take in the next week or two-alcohol.

Constant vigilance is the only weapon. Look out for your friends if they're unable to look out for themselves. Drink responsibly and know your limits. Look out for people who may be preying on someone unable to take care of themselves. Do everything you can to dispel the belief it's okay to take advantage of people, the belief "it doesn't matter if she's drunk."

I have failed on the last point. It is my responsibility to catch these things and I dropped the ball.

Please accept my sincerest apologies and never hesitate in the future to voice your concern, displeasure or disgust. After all, we are human at the Gauntlet and we are prone to mistakes. Please keep us honest.

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Comments

How will this add influence the Gauntlet's relationship with The Whiskey? Will the Gauntlet continue to solicit advertising dollars from a company that condones and even promotes criminal behaviour at its establishment?

Amanda>

You assume that:
a) the Gauntlet solicited advertising from the Whiskey;
b) the Whiskey did not produce the unfortunate phrase in the advertisement in error;
c) your use of the word "this" in your post constitutes some kind of argument, statement or insight about the subject;
d) you have an accurate understanding of the Whiskey's intentions with the "add" (sic).

Please re-evaluate your post in light of these points.

Actually Zha, I think you should take your self-righteous posturings and shove them. Amanda's question is a valid one. The Gauntlet does solicit advertising dollars - they have a full-time staff member doing so, actually, and they need to in order to stay alive. Student fees only count for so much.

Secondly, you think the Whiskey just "accidentally" put that "unfortunate" statement in their ad? Gimme a break. Hold them a little accountable. The statement's there for a purpose and if the Whiskey had some apology to make, I assume Lawrence in his sincere state of regret would have made that clear.

So I'd like to reiterate the original question, this time with a preface: has the Gauntlet staff had discussions with the Whiskey folk about the ad that Lawrence himself called "disgusting"? If so, what was the outcome? And will the Gauntlet continue to carry their ads?

Nopolitix (who is sooooo l33t because he spells his/her name unconventionally):

so∑lic∑it
v. tr.
To seek to obtain by persuasion, entreaty, or formal application: a candidate who solicited votes among the factory workers.
To petition persistently; importune: solicited the neighbors for donations.
To entice or incite to evil or illegal action.
To approach or accost (a person) with an offer of sexual services.

Now read Amanda's post and look for the word "solicit".

I think you'll find Zha quite right in pointing out that nobody except for the Whiskey and the sales people know exactly which party initiated that relationship.

Also, please either enhance your reading comprehension and English parsing abilities, or stop mis-attributing statements to people (compare your unattributed quotation of the word "accidentally" to the posted text to discover an inconsistency, and examine how you've incorrectly turned Zha's suggestion of the existence of an alternative explanation into something s/he believes to be true).

As for your statement about the Whiskey's apology, what if an apology has been made in a different forum since the editorial was written?

If you open your mind to possibilities outside your assumptions, you may find the world to be a much larger and better place.

Amanda,

Thank you for the question, it is a very valid one, one I have been considering since the button was brought to my attention and one I have discussed at length with our Ad Manager.

The key aspect of this whole situation is whether the Whiskey had any knowledge of the text in the button. In conversations we have had with them the answer is no. I am taking them at their word on that.

I made an honest mistake and I have recieved the benefit of the doubt of our readers and our staff. I owe the same courtesy to the Whiskey, whose statement that there was an oversight on their part is, in my estimation, genuine and sincere.

As such, I have asked the Whiskey to submit a letter for publication in our Sept. 18 issue clarifying their position on the whole matter. Once this letter is submitted, I see no reason to discontinue doing business with them.

They have been very cooperative and understanding over the past 48 hours and we have a great business relationship with them. I made an honest mistake in missing the text in the button. I believe them when they say they made the same mistake.

So, Amanda, in response to your question, no, we won't be changing our relationship with the Whiskey, provided they submit a letter for publication clarifying their position on the whole unfortunate incident.

Thank you,

Lawrence Bailey
Editor-in-Chief, the Gauntlet

So Lawrence, what you're saying is that no one knows how that statement ended up in the button? Are you being serious? The Whiskey folk just don't know how it happened? What exactly do they mean by an "oversight"? (yes, RCP, more improper use of quote marks that I'm sure you'll hop to and point out. I appreciate your diligence, but don't you ever get lonely?)

Can you expand this explanation please? Right now it's all very vague...

Nopolitix> It appears that you've arrived at a conclusion, so why purport to seek more information?

Nopolitix,

As a matter of fact, the person who put the text in the button was the graphic designer who initially built the ad. As far as I understand, the Whiskey picked the image up off an image bank and imposed text overtop of it.

So yes, what I'm saying is the Whiskey made the same unfortunate mistake I did, and I owe it to them to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Hope that lends more clarity,

Lawrence Bailey
Editor-in-Chief

"This isn't an apology. It's a disgusting grovel." Grow a backbone.

I would reiterate the views stated in the mass e-mail forwards about your Whiskey ad, but I am not of the belief that simply repeating the views our feminist leaders would serve any cause. I don't honestly care what your layout assistant, or photo editor or etc think of this situation and will not harass them with what amounts to spam about the advertisement.

Though I personally disagree with the advertisement, I cannot state with any moral or practical authority that the views of any party should be censored simply because some in the community do not like their contents, especially after the long struggle to get the female perspective heard. It is unfortunate that many activists feel that this is their time to "take a stand" by regurgitating a tired line about exploitation without giving their own thought or ideas to the cause. It is more unfortunate that they have replaced the intellectual hegemony of old men with the intellectual hegemony of contemporary female leaders.

I will not be lead in such a fashion.

It is naive to think that a couple of advertisements alone will convince anyone to commit date rape, and sillier to think that smearing a university paper because we can will have any effect on the prevailing attitudes in Calgary regarding such venues as the Whiskey. Consumers and members of society have stated their attitudes and views with their patronage of the Whiskey; giving them more publicity is contrary to the goal of changing those views.

Lawrence - thanks for the effort, but I need a litlte more clarification. Are you saying the Whiskey picked up the image of the woman, complete with the offensive button, from a bank and then built their ad around that? Or are you saying they picked up the image and the text they imposed was the offending comment?

RCP - yes, it's entirely possible I'm confusing the parties involved. That's why I keep asking for more clarification from Lawrence. So how about you shut up and let him get on with it?

Nopolitix> My commenting on your inability to parse English well in no way impedes Lawrence from further answering your questions! I find his explanation quite reasonable and complete with respect to your previous questions.

A few points in response to comments here and e-mailed:
0) Yes, I do take care of the online stuff in my capacity as Production Editor.
1) For those of you who are curious, I will not be removing Lisa M's comment (or anyone elses') for the sole reason that the comment is inconvenient to your arguments. If I removed every comment that hurts someone else's argument, very few posts would remain. Threats of violence or extortion will not change that, so please refrain and save your trouble. I am open to hearing other arguments though.
2) Please keep the discourse civil. Attack points, criticize demonstratable faults with comments but don't simply write "shove them", "but don't you ever get lonely?" or "So how about you shut up" as reasoned responses to arguments. I don't personally care if you make yourself appear incapable of presenting and responding to arguments logically (or worse) using your own resources, but such statements waste space on my server and don't advance anybody's arguments.

Nopolitix,

I personally don't know the specific procedures the Whiskey took in acquiring the ad, however I know the Whiskey assured me they were unaware of the text in the button and the graphic designer who made the ad has stated he put the text in there.

I believe the Whiskey purchased the image from an image bank and asked the graphic designer to make it customized for them. Again though, this is what I understand from incomplete information, if you want to dig deeper, the only people who could break down the process step by step for you are the Whiskey.

I, personally, am satisfied that it was an honest mistake on the part of the establishment.

Cheers,

Lawrence Bailey
Editor-in-Chief

Having looked closely at the image in question, I can say it is most likely that the Whiskey knew about the statement.

There are three areas where the picture was obviously modified specifically for the Whiskey. The first is the "W" on the hat; the second is the button on the right side of the jacket; the third is on the left side of the jacket. Beyond the fact the "W" and the word "Whiskey" are particular to the nightclub in question, these graphic edits are also sharper than the rest of the image. That is to say, they don't share the same blur as the original image.

Why does this tell me that the Whiskey (or at least the graphic designer that did their work) know about the statement in question?

1. The button that the statement is on is right beside one of the buttons edited to include the word "Whiskey". For the graphic designer NOT to see the statement while editing the button, he must be VERY blind. If the graphic designer did see the statement and did not mention it to his employer/client ... well, I would recommend the Whiskey hire a new graphic designer.

2. The statement has obviously been edited at some point into the image as it shares the same sharpness characteristic as the areas edited to say "Whiskey".

While this is not damningly hard evidence, it does lead me to very strongly suspect that the Whiskey management not only knew about the statement, but also specified it to be included.

Phoomp,

Yes, the graphic designer who made the ad did know about the text, as I mentioned in the post directly above yours. The Whiskey did not however and they will be submitting a letter to run in the Sept. 18 issue explaining their position.

Cheers,

Lawrence

Apologies ... I did not read the entire thread. Since the graphic designer knew about the statement, possibly inserted it and did not bring it to the attention of his client, I certainly hope that the Whiskey does not bring any business his way anymore.

I can understand how the Whiskey management may have missed this, yet missing it leads me to think that they don't fully realize the significance of advertising. Anything you submit to public speaks volumes about you ... as the Whiskey is learning painfully right now.

Finally, the statement in question only says EXPLICITLY what those ads, from all the various nightclubs that advertise on campus, are intended to say IMPLICITLY.