One schools tribute to Antonin Scalia had unexpected consequences. But did George Mason University just pass up a huge-ass marketing opportunity?
Antonin Scalia might be turning in his grave. First, it seems more and more likely that a Democratic president (either now or next year) will fill the vacancy left by his untimely demise. And second, George Mason University renamed its law school the Antonin Scalia School of Law ASSLaw or, if you prefer, ASSOL, for short.
Never mind all the law students who would rather not have their degrees associated with a man primarily known for being a strident, stubborn, reactionary judge who seemed to take real pleasure in sticking it to minorities, once even suggesting black people would be better off attending slower colleges. Thats bad enough. But what about all the good, godly folk who dont want to tell prospective employers that they attended ASSLaw? Wherever Justice Scalia is right now, hes surely looking up at us here on Earth and wondering where it all went wrong. The poor bastards been rear-ended from beyond the grave.
George Mason moved swiftly to rename the school to the less provocative Antonin Scalia Law School, fearing if youll afford me this indulgence a bit of a backlash.
Honestly, though, George Mason missed a real opportunity to update its brand for the 21st century. The name George Mason sounds like a character from an Agatha Christie novel, some daft butler with deeply repressed class resentments who ends up cracking his bosss skull with a trowel. In reality, the university derives its name from a major figure in the American revolution and delegate to the 1787 constitutional convention, a figure with virtually zero name recognition among high school seniors. They might as well name their college the University of Snore.
Why not have some gut-busting punnery or light-hearted fun to liven things up? Look at the University of California at Santa Cruz. The schools popularity blew up in the 90s thanks to a wacky mascot the banana slug and a sly mention in Quentin Tarantinos seminal film Pulp Fiction. UC Santa Cruz banana slug merchandise flew off the shelves back then. Imagine how many T-shirts ASSLaw could have sold if the cowards at George Mason hadnt turned their backs on a truckload of money.
Just picture it: a docent leads prospective students on a guided tour of the majestic ASSLaw facilities. Welcome to ASSLaw, he or she would say. We want iconoclasts here at George Mason, individuals who are willing to speak up against the injustices they see in the system. As such, we only admit those with the cheek to express themselves freely. Cue a hearty chuckle. The docent is in on the joke, of course. No dummies at George Mason, folks.
The tour then makes its way to the gift shop. Inside the glorious, well-appointed facility is all manner of classy, priced-to-move, mass-produced ass-themed memorabilia. The irony factor is high, as though this is less a school and more a slightly upmarket Hot Topic in a tony suburban mall. Be the Butt of Every Joke at George Mason, one T-shirt says. Tuchas-shaped foam hats are on offer for the most hardcore of George Mason basketball supporters. Its truly the mecca of butt play in the collegiate commerce sector.
Sure, its a tacky joke to profit off of. And yes, the whole gag will get old after a while. But in the brief moment where its still funny to the average person, the NSFW acronym will make us all forget that youve named your law school after a man who prided himself on his lack of respect for LGBTQ equality and female reproductive rights. Who among us will fixate on the bigotry of Scalias record when theres a good rear-end joke to make? I would certainly rather laugh at the word ass than consider a supreme court justice who believed that women do not have a right to choose what goes on in their own bodies.
Comical acronyms might be able to single-handedly save the entire world from the sobering reality that our democracies and our rights are under attack at all times. What if we renamed the Republican party the Trump Unified Republican Division, or TURD? I can barely contain my histrionic giggling. Or if Ted Cruz wins the nomination, we could call them the Cruzian Order of Concerned Kids, or COCK. And Im just warming up.
Only by endlessly mocking our dire straits will we be prepared to acclimate ourselves to the very real possibility that our system of government is collapsing under the weight of arrogance, hatred and willful ignorance. In the spirit of acronym-based branding, our world is so horrible, I think, or SHIT. See, it really helps, doesnt it?