Is it ethical to buy a spiked t-shirt?

Our ethical columnist loses the plot over clothing that declares ‘Humanity is underrated’.

Ethan Greenhart

Topics Politics

Dear Ethan,

I love spiked, especially your column, which is by far the most rational thing that the magazine publishes. So I am thinking of buying a spiked t-shirt. However, I am worried that the t-shirts are unethical. I mean, one of them has the slogan ‘Humanity is UNDERrated’, which at first I thought was an embarrassing typo (surely it should be OVERrated like on all other sensible t-shirts?), but now I’m thinking that it might be serious. Ethan, would it ever be ethical to buy and don such a garment?

Jemima Cuthbert-Singleford
The Duchy of Cornwall

Dear Jemima,

Let me ask you this. Would you wear a t-shirt that said ‘Disease is underrated’? Or ‘Nuclear war is underrated’? Or ‘Sarah Palin is underrated’? Or ‘The decimation of fish stocks in the North Atlantic is underrated’? Or ‘The Holocaust was underrated’?

No? Well, all of those horrendous things – sickness, fish murder, gas chambers, Sarah Palin – are the stuff of humanity. That is mankind – or as I refer to it in my new book, ‘man-unkind’ – in action, in all its diseasing, gassing, winking, yee-hawing horror. Why would anyone in their right mind wear a t-shirt celebrating a plague on the planet!?!

When I discovered that spiked was launching a range of PRO-human t-shirts, I was furious. I actually dropped my mug of tangerine-infused herbal tea all over my organic cotton-clothed lap. (Luckily for spiked – because it IS ethical to sue – my tangerine tea was only lukewarm since I believe it is unethical in the extreme to boil fruit or anything else that once had a face, a pulse, or a relationship with the sun that involved physical bending or an ability to flower.)

I hadn’t been so mad with spiked since it launched the campaign ‘Open The Borders: Freedom of Movement For All’. The madness! Back then I wrote to the editors: Why won’t you heed the wise words of the Optimum Population Trust, who tell us that mass immigration is a ‘route to environmental collapse’? Or the British National Party, who wisely warn that ‘immigration is creating an environmental disaster’? (Hold on – was it the other way around? Was it the OPT who warned of ‘environmental disaster’, and the BNP who warned of ‘environmental collapse’? I can never remember! Not that it matters. Both of them are right.)

Of course, spiked ignored my warnings about the dangers of mass immigration, so no doubt it won’t give a fig (another speciesist phrase! Who are we to give figs?) about my concern regarding its t-shirts. You know what, Jemima? I am sorely tempted to buy the t-shirt that says ‘Humanity is underrated’ just so that I can cross out the word ‘under’ and replace it with the words ‘massively over’. That should show them!

I far prefer the non-spiked t-shirt that says ‘Humanity is overrated’, which is extremely popular and fashionable these days – especially, according to my eldest boy, amongst young people who frequent Camden market and who attend Amy Winehouse concerts (I know – Amy WHO?) Trust spiked to go against fashion by producing such an unspeakably obscene slogan as ‘Humanity is UNDERrated’! That takes contrarianism way too far. I’m all for people making provocative statements to stir up public debate, if that scratches where they itch. But statements bigging up humanity, which is now widely recognised by everyone from the United Nations to al-Qaeda as being the cause of most of the Earth’s problems, including global warming, global freezing, global bank collapses, and global war? That’s just taking the piss.

My preferred slogan – ‘Humanity is overrated’ – has been uttered and worn by some very respectable and misunderstood individuals in recent years. It originates, of course, from the TV show House, which, according to ‘friends’ of mine who actually own TV sets, is easily the best thing on the box.

Apparently it features this doctor, right, who hates human beings but who still saves their lives! I don’t understand the last part, but still, it’s got to be better than ‘Celebrity Penis Transplant’, or ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’, or ‘Buy a Home in the Sun and Fly There Twice a Year Without Giving a Second Thought to the Tonnes of CO2 You Will Be Farting into the Atmosphere’, and the rest of the evil dross that passes for televised entertainment these days.

And of course, a t-shirt declaring ‘Humanity is overrated’ was warn by Pekka-Eric Auvinen, that sensitive young man who is now unforgivably referred to as ‘the Finnish school shooter’. Yes, it’s true that Master Auvinen shot dead seven people and then himself in a school in southern Finland a year ago this week – and it’s true (I guess) that that was a bad thing to do. However, Master Auvinen also had some very sensible ideas. In his YouTube video statements he said ‘the most central and irrational faith among people is the faith in technology and economical growth’. Who could disagree with that!? Certainly not me. spiked probably does, though, contrarians that they are.

Master Auvinen also said: ‘That there are billions of people over 60kg on this planet is recklessness’ – which suggests to me that he was sensitive both to the problem of overpopulation AND the tick-tick-ticking of what European governments refer to as the Obesity IED (Improvised Explosive Device).

‘I wish that death to mankind comes soon’, said Auvinen. And you know what? Just last week the well-regarded British neuroscientist Susan Blackmore said on BBC Radio 3: ‘For the planet’s sake, I hope we have bird flu or some other thing that will reduce the population, because otherwise we’re doomed.’ So who’s the nutter, eh? Auvinen or Blackmore? Maybe it’s neither. Maybe if Master Auvinen had applied for an internship at BBC Radio 3 instead of shooting his schoolmates then we would be patting him on the back instead of dancing on his grave? Eh, Jemima? Think about that.

Anyway, I am not alone in my opposition to spiked’s t-shirts. I was very pleased to see that on his website the Labour MP and former transport minister Tom Harris recently said he ‘doesn’t have enough faith to be a humanist’. On spiked’s ‘Humanity is underrated’ t-shirt he said ‘I understand the message [do you???] and sometimes I wish I were optimistic enough to buy into it. But I’m not.’ Me neither, Mr Harris. God Jemima, don’t you feel sorry for MPs? Recognising that humans are generally not worth very much but still having to plead with them for their votes? What a horrible life. And further evidence, of course, that democracy is little more than the tyranny of ‘the optimistic’ (what I prefer to call ‘the naive’) over sensibly pessimistic predictors of future doom like Mr Harris. And me.

Seriously, only people who think humanity is a good thing, who believe in completely free migration, who are opposed to all forms of censorship, and who support unfettered progress would click on this link and buy these scandalous garments.

Ethan Greenhart’s book Can I Recycle my Granny? and 39 Other Eco-Dilemmas is published by Hodder & Stoughton in October (for more details, visit Amazon(UK)). Ethan is here to answer all your questions about ethical living in the twenty-first century. Email him {encode=”” title=”here”}. Read his earlier columns here.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics


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