A theory of rhetorical ethics

Friday afternoon, The Heartland Institute announced that they would stop running this billboard over the Eisenhower Expressway. That’s Ted Kaczynski, who worried about man-made climate change in his manifesto before he rendered the phenomenon nonexistent by mailing bombs to scientists. The ad was to be part of a series featuring public figures who expressed belief in global warming, including Fidel Castro, Osama Bin Laden and Charles Manson. It was to be classy. Then a bunch of debate-team types called in and forced them to cancel it, which—as Heartland’s press release explains—was what they wanted all along. “This provocative billboard was always intended to be an experiment,” Heartland President Joseph Bast said through his press agent. “And after just 24 hours the results are in: It got people’s attention.”

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This pickle has more fans than Nickelback. Now what?

Nerd. Core.

Those of you who recently made the switch from Friendster to Facebook are probably familiar with the omnipresent “Can This Pickle Get More Fans Than Nickleback?” group. (Warning: photograph of anthropomorphic pickle engaging in apparently consensual sex act with Chad Kroeger.) The group was founded in February, back when Nickelback’s Facebook page listed 1,380,820 fans. While new Nickelback fans have since trickled in, new fans of the pickle that symbolically opposes Nickelback rushed as a raging torrent, and at some point on Friday afternoon the pickle pulled ahead. Right now, the pickle has 1,456,556 fans, while the group Billboard two months ago declared the Band of the Decade has 1,418,801. On Facebook, at least, This Pickle has more fans than Nickelback. Which raises some interesting questions.

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