When Froot Loops Trump Free Speech

An interesting essay on sociology blog Sociological Images turns on a recent and somewhat revolting development in the world of corporate food.

"[Cereal company] Kellogg's is suing the Maya Archaeology Initiative (MAI), a non-profit Guatemalan organization aimed at protecting the local history, culture, and natural environment. Why? It uses a toucan in its logo."

The essay raises two points that bear consideration. One, entirely reasonable, is that maybe the makers of Froot Loops shouldn't have the power to prevent any other organization in the world from using an image of a toucan as a symbol, what with that being chilling to free expression and commerce, and also kind of Orwellian. (Does the existence of Special K prohibit the use of the letter "K" in anyone else's logo? Does Count Chocula preclude any other commercial uses of vampires?)

The second point raised by the essay, which strikes this layperson as utterly daft and phoned straight in via the Crazyphone from Dimension Academia, is the idea that maybe nobody anywhere should be able to use a picture of an animal as a logo, because pictures of animals "can contribute to a particular perception" of those animals. This is pretty directly akin to banning the discussion of animals because words can contribute to a particular perception of animals, or writing about animals because etc., and so forth. Interesting to briefly consider, but not practical on a number of levels.

Still, back to point number one: Eat a black widow and die, Toucan Sam.

Image sources: Kellogg's/Maya Archaeology Initiative