Anonymous Attacks Louis Vuitton
After Danish artist Nadia Plesner created a t-shirt depicting a starving African child clutching a Louis Vuitton bag, the design house sued the artist for millions of dollars. The t-shirt’s biting political commentary on peoples’ need for gratuitous luxury items in the face of worldwide starvation and poverty probably bruised the ego of LV’s corporate money-making machine, but relevant commentary aside, the shirt is a trademark violation of the company’s brand. And, though they’ve since dropped the suit, they had the right to file it in the first place. Internet hacker group Anonymous took up the artist’s cause. Their aim: to do as much monetary damage to Louis Vuitton as possible, even promising to bring down their website.
For Anonymous, the issue at hand is freedom of speech. Their methods show how far some people are willing to go to protect it. Aggression, intimidation and insult seem to be the route that Anonymous is taking in their battle to allow Plesner’s right to express herself. This, however, is not a freedom of speech issue.
Louis Vuitton has the right to protect the brand the company has created. That brand isn’t responsible for worldwide hunger, poverty, corrupt governments or war, nor are the people who buy it. At worst, they’re selfish — buying a $600 wallet instead of donating to charity — but everyone is guilty of that kind of thoughtlessness sometimes.
Anonymous’ aggression is misguided. I was entertained by, but couldn’t support, the group during their various attacks on the Westboro Baptist Church because I disagree with WBC’s politics. That was an issue of freedom of speech. The Supreme Court upheld that organization’s right to spew their hate speech at funerals of fallen soldiers — a vile act on all accounts but still legal.
Anonymous wants to protect freedom of speech? Then don’t attack organizations like WBC that have every right to voice their opinions, even if those opinions make the majority of people nauseous. OPERATION SKANKBAG, as Anonymous has dubbed their new cause, is a transparent attempt to fight the corporate world in all its facets. Attacking WBC for expressing themselves and then turning around and attacking Louis Vuitton for suppressing someone else’s right to do so makes the group look as though they’ll pick a fight anywhere, justified or not.
I am unimpressed by Anonymous’ hypocrisy. Take aim at corrupt government officials, oil executives who take tax breaks, and those jerk congressmen who took away union workers’ only bargaining chip. In this materialistic culture, battling consumerism is a losing fight. Calling the people who create expensive bags and the people who buy them “skanks” alienates the public from a group that could do real good for important social causes — and it’s just another form of hate speech. Anonymous is powerful in this era of technology. It’s a shame that they’re using their skills and their voice in a petty fight.