SINCE THE INTERNET had not yet been invented, no one realized that Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges had it in mind when he uttered his prophetic “everything is its own best parody” line back in the pre-digital age. But now along comes a conflict over gwbush.com, a political parody Web site that gives new meaning to Borges’ dictum.
The site is cunningly—and cleverly—designed to look pretty much like a straightforward political campaign site. You have to read its “press releases”—on such matters as the candidate’s intention to release his fellow cocaine abusers from jail—with a reasonable amount of attention to divine the satirical slant. And given the lamentable mental state of the average voter, it figures that some dim-witted (read: Republican) voters will be fooled.
However, as with all things Internet-related, the George Bush Jr. campaign has gone mildly bonkers in its response to gwbush.com. It quickly bought up every unused Bush-related domain name it could dream up (bushsucks.com, etc.), and now is threatening legal action against Zack Exley, operator of gwbush.com—alleging, apparently, that satire should be illegal when conducted on the Internet. “In your wholesale misappropriation and imitation of the georgewbush.com Web site, you violate a host of copyright and trademark laws,” Bush lawyer Benjamin L. Ginsberg wrote. “[T]here is a real likelihood that a person ‘surfing’ the Web could be confused into believing, somehow, that your site represents or is authorized by the Exploratory Committee. Such confusion may damage the perceived integrity of the Exploratory Committee’s Web site.” Not nearly as much as your letter, Mr. Ginsberg, which outperforms overt parody by a good gigabyte.