'Gay Johnny,' 'The Fairy Soap'????

Dateline: Wed 08 Dec 2010


Channel 6/Fox 59 local television affiliate has hopped on the racist soap story, explored here thanks to blogger and culture-watch writer Kelly Jones Sharp. The soap is sold at the Logan Village Mall in backwater Noblesville; the owner of the small shop promoting and selling it is one Gary Dewester. He's in the big tiime -- says he sells 20-30 bars a year, at $4 or so a pop.

Mr. Dewester is apparently an attorney and he told Fox 59 the shop is a write-off.

What is amusing about this story and its evolution is now that TV has tracked down the owner and promoter of racist soap, he's not one bit apologetic, but defends the sale of the soap as the American way; everybody has the right to make a buck. The soap sells, he says, because 'some people think it's funny."

We'll see who is laughing when and if he loses his lease at the mall, as the owner of the facility is apparently threatening. But then Mr. Dewester will likely sue, and it will be even more great publicity for Indiana.

Dewester, in a sense, is correct. Let the marketplace decide.  I forecast he will have to take his racist soap biz elsewhere -- like in the basement of his house, where the general public doesn't have to see it.

It really is an ugly, throwback and silly product.

Thanks to Kelly for alerting me to the added publicity.

Oh, the fairy soap reference -- if you look at the link, you will see Mr. D asks if gays are offended because he also sells "the Fairy Soap." I think I know this guy ... he's a certain type.

Watch the clip.



Jason [unverified] said:

Eat your heart out Just Cookies!

I read with interest until I got to the part where this 'hot commodity' was flying off the shelves at the rate of 2 or 3 a month.

Even for an attorney he does a poor job of weaseling around it. He smells like he's been washing with the product.

Isn't this why they invented the internet?

2010-12-08 09:32:51

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Methinks Dewester has been pleased with the coverage.

Certainly thousands more people know about his mall now that it's been on the teevee.

(Don't care what you say about me, just spell my name right!)

2010-12-08 12:30:04

Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

"I think I know this guy ... he's a certain type."

Genus: Wanker

2010-12-08 14:34:45

Keari Troutman [unverified] said:

this is really unbelievable. are you people also offended by aunt jemima syrup? what about stores that sell little rascals dvds? pornography? offensive music and video games? what's next - boycotting wal-mart? seriously people, if you don't like it, don't buy it. as a shop owner, he has every right to sell an antique label soap - threatening to pull his lease, however, will cause a serious backlash. life really is a lot easier if you stop looking for things to be offended by. i hate to tell you this, but human nature dictates that you will never be disappointed.

2010-12-08 16:32:47

ruthholl [Member] said:

Keari, we can have a legitimate debate about the value of black memorabilia and its place in history, etc., including its value and sale.
I think the problem with Mr. Dewester is that he seems to lack any comprehension how and why this might be upsetting to some people. He has made no effort to talk about why the soap is being reproduced or its potential "value" to a collector. Also, most importantly, he is not selling a whole store filled with legitimate antique black artifacts -- much of which is very hurtful and filled with caricature, as this soap is. In other words, he just has not engaged in the debate. His attitude is, "hey, if I can make a buck, go for it."
In fact, people do object to porn, violent video games, old racist movies and tv shows etc etc etc all the time. Why do you think Disney quit releasing "Song of the South"? Or kids no longer read "Little Black Sambo"? Attitudes change, and racism is something we can now discuss, more or less, in an open forum.
I agree, if you look to be offended, you won't be disappointed. I find this particular merchant's rationale and defense offensive, and I would not buy his crap.
But should he lose his lease over this? Maybe. I mean, how could it possibly make that much difference in his life? He's only making 20 or so bucks a year on this stuff anyhow, As I said, pick the hill you wanna die on. This ain't it, bubba. (not speaking to you, or even Mr. D, but just in general...seems a silly crusade to go to the mat for...)

2010-12-08 17:28:18

hendy [Member] said:

Lose his lease?

This is chump change compared to institutional/workplace and judicial racism.

It's like pouring holy water on Martinsville and praying it absolves the sin. Time is better spent where it can pay off, rather than calling out the bubbas. It takes generations to change people. Let's go for practical social justice. Seems more productive, no?

2010-12-08 22:04:13

indykjsharp [unverified] said:

Saving the world, one soap at a time, hendy.

2010-12-08 22:12:47

Jason [unverified] said:

Institutional racism and social justice, oy, the road to hell is paved with good intentions indeed.

Anywho, so are we not allowed to be offended, or are you saying that we should also be offended at Aunt Jemima? The irony Keari, is that the only reason it's funny is because it's offensive. If you don't understand that it's meant to be offensive to some people than I don't get how you could think it's funny. Depending on the context I may find it funny or offensive, but I wouldn't want my kids walking around and seeing it, i.e. having the context chosen for me. Isn't that the free market at work? Am I allowed to ask the landlord if I can shop on his/her property without having to look at it?

Only speaking for myself, he certainly has the right to sell his soap. I don't think anybody's arguing that. If I was a neighboring shopowner, I'd say that I have the right to not have my business impugned by this assclown's publicity stunt.

2010-12-09 03:19:18

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

When somone takes their ware southside their own basement, and sells them in a public shop, certain governmental entities get involved.

Zoning, taxing, etc.

Then, the government has a right, and some would argue and obligation, to step in. It isn't a clear-cut issue from time to time.

The soap is offensive, Keari. Period. Luckily, you're in the distinct minority. And that number decreases daily. Will it ever be zero? Sadly, no.

The attorney needs to have his brain washed out with soap.

2010-12-09 06:02:24

hendy [Member] said:

Free speech is a tricky thing. As a civil libertarian, I tend to find myself siding with the very edge. Should some people be spanked, admonished, tsk-tsked, etc? Sure.

But it's like WikiLeaks: it's within the bounds. Should there be protection for speech found offensive? Yes, damn it. You can be offended. But you shouldn't shut it down.

There is hate speech, and in some jurisdictions, hate speech is unprotected. It's a squishy topic. There is great diversity, and the great need to accommodate that diversity of context and opinion.

When you react to provocation, you potentially achieve the motives of various speakers. Sometimes it's just best not to react... instead moving on without clucking, shaking one's head, etc. We get to vote with real votes and real dollars and our own behavior. There is a better place where we can rise above the sludge out there. I think this is one of those cases.

2010-12-09 13:28:54

Johnny [unverified] said:

To clarify, these aren't antique reproductions; these brands never existed as soaps. I'm most disturbed by the fact that Mr. Dewester was (and perhaps still is) a public defender in Hamilton County. It makes me question how zealously he defended his black clients.

2010-12-09 20:13:59

hendy [Member] said:

Correlation does not equal causation.

We have no idea Dewester's quality or confidence of counsel. We do know he has questionable bad taste in soap.

2010-12-09 23:21:40

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Yeah, Hendy, but it does go to character.

If I lived in Hamilton County--and I thank my lucky stars every day that I don't--I would do two things:

1. Insist that this public defender be disciplined for this activity. Not fired. Disciplined.

2. Get rid of that fat little Napoleanic mayor. Gawd what a dictator.

But hey, the Palladium is nice, huh? (Geeeesh)

Make that three things:

Make sure Sonia Leeerkamp gets run out of town on a large rail. A shocking embarrassment to the judicial system and the county.

2010-12-10 06:16:34

kaballah38 [Member] said:

Kelley King (FOX 59) was wearing fur. Mrs. King does support cruelty to animals.

2010-12-10 07:42:57

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Kaballah it might be faux fur. Don't be so quick on the trigger.

2010-12-10 08:11:45

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Hendy: I should've added this above, re: the counselor's ability as a lawyer/public defender.

Lawyers take certain oaths, one as an attorney, other oaths with certain public jobs (public defender being one). They are held to a higher standard of conduct.

I assure you, the promotion of this kind of racism, as a comemrcial activity, violates every ounce of those oaths taken by Mr. Dewester. He is not a casual observer in this activity. He instigated it.

It isn't illegal. It's free speech. But there are non-statutory standards to which all attorneys are held. And above that, public defenders take an oath, too. They are representatives of the court, paid by all of us, via state and local funds.

And if there were no oaths or standards, taxpayers have every right to create some.

2010-12-10 08:16:36

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Let's think about this as a free speech issue.

How did Friends of Voltaire put it? I disagree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it?

Even the Nazis got permission to march in an Illinois town with a large Jewish population.

If the soap offends you, don't buy it!

2010-12-10 10:49:31

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Wow. OK, Ms. Cynical.

It ought to offend us all. It's blatantly racist and has no redeeming value. It's meant to poke fun at a certain group of people.

2010-12-10 13:53:10

ruthholl [Member] said:

Johnny, thank you so much for clarifying the fact that these soaps are not reproductions. I am going to correct that right now on my current post.
Also, thank you for letting us know about the attorney's role as a public defender. I agree with you 100 percent on questioning his ability to defend minorities. (I guess I would wonder about his relationships with not only blacks...)

2010-12-10 14:00:46

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

"Offensive" and "illegal" are two different categories, TTT.

I never said the soap didn't offend people. Just that it falls under "free speech" rules.

2010-12-10 15:16:05

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

And I said nothing about illegal, either, Cynical. You need to slow down your reading. or speed up your comprehension.

Your "don't buy it" was directed at offensive, not illegal. Ditto my reply.

2010-12-10 18:36:51

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Okey dokey, TTT.

You're right (on both counts).

2010-12-10 19:19:25

Sophlady [unverified] said:

This is not a free speech issue. It is a matter of contract law. Dewester has likely violated a clause in his contract requiring he not attract negative attention to the mall. Or, he may be a tenant at will. Either way, the lessor is free to evict him. If he is a lawyer, he knows that.

It is not a free speech issue mainly because commercial speech does not have the same protections political speech and speech by media do. When the goal is make a buck, the law does not consider expression to be sacrosanct.

I also think people are using a bogus free speech defense to avoid the facts: This soap is produced solely for the purpose of being offensive. It has no historical value. And, as soap it is no different from other detergents for the body. Unless a person believes there is value in anti-black stereotypes, there is no reason to support the existence of this product.

2010-12-11 04:10:11

Liberals Make Me SICK! [unverified] said:

Will the Anti-American liberals please form a straighrt line and follow Kelly off the cliff. Your type is what has destroyed America. After civil war2 i can use the soap to wash my boots of all your cowardly excrements.

2010-12-15 09:53:16

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