Offensive Candy

DisappointMints

How dare a college make fun of President Obama? Or, more precisely, how dare a Tennessee state university sell breath mints satirizing the president of the United States?

According to an article by Megan Boehnke in the Knoxville News Sentinel:

Breath mints are usually refreshing, but a Knoxville legislator believes a University of Tennessee bookstore’s selling of novelty candies mocking President Barack Obama [“disappoint MINTS,” right] stinks.

UT officials pulled the mints poking fun at Obama from store shelves after state Rep. Joe Armstrong, a Democrat, visited the bookstore and told the director he found the satirical mints offensive.

Armstrong, a Democrat, hastened to add that his actions were appropriate, however, since the University of Tennessee is supported by the state legislature. As Armstrong puts it:

When you operate on state and federal dollars, you ought to be sensitive to those type of politically specific products. If it was a private entity or corporation or store, (that’s different), but this is a state university. We certainly don’t want in any way to put the university in a bad light by having those political (products), particularly aimed at defaming the president.

No, no. Apparently it would be far preferable to make the entire state legislature look ridiculous with this bizarre level of involvement.

It’s unclear if Armstrong is arguing that because Tennessee is a state university its bookstore is actually not allowed to sell products that make fun of federal officials or if his point is merely that he didn’t like the mints and since he is a state legislator the school should watch out.

Either way, this meddling is sort of dumb.

It’s worth pointing out that the bookstore also sold candies ridiculing President Bush during his time in office.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer