[FoRK] And we shall turn their own tools against them...

jbone at place.org jbone at place.org
Sun Mar 14 20:16:20 PST 2004


Brief aside:  I was on a panel w/ Ana Marie way back when at a 
Bionomics conference years back --- smart chica, but I didn't know she 
was this funny.  This is too freakin' good for words.  Gonna have to 
seek out her blog, now.  You go, girl!



Bush Site Unplugs Poster Tool
By Chris Ulbrich

Story location: http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,62643,00.html

10:37 AM Mar. 12, 2004 PT

The Bush-Cheney presidential campaign disabled features of a tool on 
its website Thursday that pranksters were using to mock the Republican 
presidential ticket.

The tool originally let users generate a full-size campaign poster in 
PDF format, customized with a short slogan of their choice. But Bush 
critics began using the site to place their own snarky political 
messages above a Bush-Cheney '04 logo and a disclaimer stating that the 
poster was paid for by Bush-Cheney '04, Inc.

The campaign changed the tool Thursday so that users could no longer 
enter their own messages, but only select from a pull-down list of 
states and coalition groups. The campaign didn't respond to requests 
for comment.

The poster tool has been up and running since December, but Ana Marie 
Cox, editor of the Washington political gossip blog Wonkette, turned it 
into a weapon of mass satire this week when she devoted several posts 
to the inner workings of the device she dubbed the "Sloganator."

At Cox's request, close to 200 Wonkette readers sent in slogans which 
they had slipped through the system. Among them: "Run for your lives," 
"They sure smell like old people," and the Orwellian, "A boot stomping 
on a human face forever."

Cox also published lists of words the tool was allowing and, perhaps 
more tellingly, those it was not. Not surprisingly, it rejected the 
usual four-letter words and sexual lingo, but it also banned more 
innocuous terms like "stupid," "evil," "terrorists" and "Iraq."

Chuck DeFeo, the electronic campaign manager for the Bush-Cheney 
campaign, declined to say how the campaign was filtering user input. 
"We are taking significant precautions to prevent the use of offensive 
materials on the GeorgeWBush.com website," he said.

But despite the campaign's efforts, several Wonkette readers reported 
that the generator was occasionally routing slogans to the wrong users. 
One reported entering a sexually outrageous slogan and getting back a 
poster reading "Sportsmen for Bush-Cheney 2004," raising the 
possibility that somewhere in America a bewildered GOP duck hunter was 
wondering what on earth was going on with his party.

DeFeo said he was not aware that any slogans were being misrouted, but 
said that the more obscene slogans were indicative of a certain tone in 
the discourse of some Bush-Cheney opponents.

"Their action says a lot about people who are 100 percent committed to 
using profane and vulgar language in place of substantive dialog on the 
important issues facing America today," he said.

Cox scoffed. "No one's going to have a substantive dialog of any kind 
on a poster," she said. Besides, she argued, many of the humorous 
slogans were more thoughtful than anything the tool was designed to 

She cited her own slogan, which she admitted was one of her favorites: 
"But not if you're gay!"

"'But not if you're gay!' has more intellectual weight behind it and 
says more about the Bush campaign than 'Ohioans for Bush' or 'Hunters 
for Bush,'" she said.

Cox, who counts herself neither a Bush nor a Kerry supporter, admitted 
that it would be a trivial matter to mock up the same posters in 
Photoshop. The attraction, she said, was somewhat childish.

"If someone made up a bunch of posters and did them on Photoshop no one 
would care. It's the juvenile glee of having the campaign be the ones 
to do it," she said. "But just because it's juvenile doesn't mean it's 
wrong and doesn't mean that it's not an expression of some kind of 
legitimate political grievance and opinion."

She read from a recent submission: "'Five hundred dead soldiers support 
Bush-Cheney '04.' See? Substantive political debate. That is an 
incredibly powerful political message. It may not be a discussion, but 
posters rarely are."

End of story

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