Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Twinkie defense

the twinkie defense
With boxes that bear the tagline "The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever," Twinkies are set to return to shelves July 15.

Let's flashback to 1978, when Twinkies had to make a minor comeback thanks to something that became known at the "Twinkie defense." Laurie Garrett's book "The Coming Plague" provides a brief perspective of the issue from the perspective of the gay rights movement:
In November 1978, the U.S. gay rights movement attained that dubious notoriety offered to all grassroots efforts whose leaders are assassinated because of their beliefs. Harvey Milk, by then the city's first openly gay elected official -- a member of the Board of Supervisors -- was shot dead in his office, along with the mayor, George Moscone. The assassin was another supervisor and former police officer, Dan White, who would later get a light sentence based on his creative plea of temporary insanity, caused by the overconsumption of sweets (Hostess Twinkies). The jury's acceptance of the so-called Twinkie defense would be interpreted by the gay community as an obscene display of homophobia.

Milk's murder placed the political fate of the gay rights movement in the United States solidly in the ranks of other civil rights movements.
In reality, Twinkies were barely mentioned at the trial. White's longstanding and untreated depression was the main point to the defense's argument, and the defense argued that the previously health-conscious White was now eating a diet of junk food.

Akin to the "Telephone" game, the media simplified the defense's argument to suggesting that junk food was the cause of White's depression, rather than an indicator of his depression. Supposedly moms nationwide began eliminating Twinkies from their kids' lunches as a result.

Today the "Twinkie defense" is used as a derisive term for an improbable legal defense -- and Twinkies are making a sweet comeback.
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