The award for P.R. champion of the week goes to the Gibson guitar company, makers of the famous Les Paul guitar, and headquartered, I'm proud to say, here in my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.
A couple of years ago, the Feds raided the Gibson factory here in Music City, SWAT-team style, and shut the whole company down, allegedly for possessing illegally imported wood. From what I gather, it had mostly to do with how the shipping containers were labeled. Anyway, it didn't merit a commando operation.
It was a disproportionate action on dubious grounds.
Gibson later settled for $300,000. But not until after it had already lost far more than that by virtue of being forced to shut down operations.
This week Gibson has announced the "Government Series" of guitars, to celebrate the end of its tussle with the eager enforcers of the U.S. Customs Department.
It's a series of guitars made, purportedly, with the very same wood that was seized by the United States government, which was later returned at the end of the fiasco.
Ladies and gentlemen, Here's a photo of the Gibson Les Paul Government Series II. The body is painted in a custom color the company has named "Government Tan"--suitably drab--a nod to the joyless reality of living under the heavy thumb of stifling bureaucracy.
I promise you, I'm not making this up. Go to the website and see for yourself.
I don't need another guitar, but I may have to buy one of these.
P.S. If a savvy marketing person down at Gibson HQ wants to cut me a "special deal" on one of these, I promise I will personally upload a video here on Ricochet, demonstrating the doubtlessly liberating tones of of this musical monument to freedom and due process.
(h/t Mark Hemingway)