Anything worth talking about, is worth blogging about

I know its only mid-January, but there is already a front runner for stupidest event of the year. First, some background:

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts released the following press release to announce that it is giving out free doughnuts on January 20, the date of Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration:

“Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. (NYSE: KKD) is honoring American’s sense of pride and freedom of choice on Inauguration Day, by offering a free doughnut of choice to every customer on this historic day, Jan. 20. By doing so, participating Krispy Kreme stores nationwide are making an oath to tasty goodies — just another reminder of how oh-so-sweet ‘free’ can be.”

You do see where this is leading, right?

Yes. The American Life League is protesting these “abortion doughnuts” because of the word choice. Here is an excerpt (the entire release is quoted at the article I linked above, and for context, it is proceeded by quoting Krispy Kreme’s press release and followed by background information about the ALL:

Just an unfortunate choice of words? For the sake of our Wednesday morning doughnut runs, we hope so. The unfortunate reality of a post Roe v. Wade America is that ‘choice’ is synonymous with abortion access, and celebration of ‘freedom of choice’ is a tacit endorsement of abortion rights on demand.

President-elect Barack Obama promises to be the most virulently pro-abortion president in history. Millions more children will be endangered by his radical abortion agenda.

Celebrating his inauguration with “Freedom of Choice” doughnuts – only two days before the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to decriminalize abortion – is not only extremely tacky, it’s disrespectful and insensitive and makes a mockery of a national tragedy.

A misconstrued concept of “choice” has killed over 50 million preborn children since Jan. 22, 1973. Does Krispy Kreme really want their free doughnuts to celebrate this “freedom.”

As of Thursday morning, communications director Brian Little could not be reached for comment. We challenge Krispy Kreme doughnuts to reaffirm their commitment to true freedom – to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – and to separate themselves and their doughnuts from our great American shame.

This ridiculous press release has already received a well deserved mocking (I especially like the comment about going January 21 for morning after doughnuts). I’d also like to ask about whether the people at the ALL have anything better to do, perhaps like shutting up? The context of both uses of the word “choice” in  Krispy Kreme’s press release makes it entirely clear that the release has nothing to do with abortion. To make it clear that the writer of the release had no idea what they were talking about, an analysis shows why below the line.

A search through the Oxford English dictionary for the definition of the phrase “freedom of choice” reveals none; instead the only use is as part of the second definition of the word enslave. The use in such a definition implies a restriction of the negative rights of people; namely, “freedom of choice” means not having others make decisions for you, such as where to live or what to have for breakfast. It also means not having other unnecessarily interfere with your decisions; in other words, not only being able to do something, but also being able to refrain from doing that same thing. Hence, “freedom of choice” is having more than one option; there is always an alternative.

The OED offers six definitions of the word “choice”; four as a noun and two as an adjective. They are:

As a noun:

  1. an act of choosing.
  2. the right or ability to choose.
  3. a range from which to choose.
  4. something chosen.

As an adjective:

  1. of very good quality.
  2. (of language) rude and abusive.

The adposition “of” is in general (1) a tag marking the next noun as being in a genitive or possessive sense, of (2) a tag marking that the next noun is the thing that the previous noun contains or is made of, or (3) a quasi-affix used in certain “two word combinations” that act as a single lexical unit with a meaning separate from its components. Can a doughnut be made of any of the possible nouns indicated in the definitions? A choice is an abstract thing, and it cannot seriously be used to make a doughnut. Hence, it is reasonable to eliminate the noun definitions. Since Krispy Kreme’s press release is clearly not referring to languages, this leaves the first adjective definition. And that is very plausible, as it is perfectly normal for a company to speak of its products in the best possible terms. Indeed, “…by offering a free doughnut of choice to every customer on this historic day….” can be changed to “…by offering a free doughnut of very good quality to every customer on this historic day….” with scarcely any change of meaning.

However, I think that the single “word” choice is really one of the 3rd kinds of of’s; namely, the word is not “choice” but “of choice”. And that is exactly what is meant by the first adjective definition, “of very good quality”.

Hence, based on the above, I conclude that the press release was likely either a ridiculous mistake, or a deliberate attempt to get publicity for its cause by capitalizing on the nearness of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade/Doe v. Bolton and Inauguration Day. Since I find it hard to believe that anyone could be so stupid as to make such a clear semantic error, I’ll favour the second possibility.

There are no known Krispy Kreme’s in Canada that I know of. If you live near the border, perhaps you should go south and enjoy a free treat, and perhaps I’ll drive down to Washington state just for that. If you live in the US, you’re already half way there.

(Hat tip)

Update: Krispy Kreme gave in to the ALL.

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