As the mathematical theorem goes, a hypothetical monkey hitting
random keys on a typewriter over an infinite amount of time will
eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare.
Or, if you start a program to write a random English and French
word on bottle caps, you eventually deliver an insult to the
drinker. This is what
) learned this week in Canada.
In the nominally bilingual country, an ill-devised campaign printed
two random words, one for each language, on the inside of Vitamin
The result was not poetry. A couple in Edmonton saw the words "YOU
RETARD" on their bottle cap. It just so happens that their daughter
is developmentally disabled.
Was this the work of a rogue employee? No. Just pure chance. A
Coca-Cola Refreshments Canada representative explained to the
that the company had planned the campaign as a fun way for
consumers to collect bottle caps and create humorous and
nonsensical sentences. The game could be played in English or
The "retard" in this sense was the French word for "slow" or
"late." A separate complaint was that the word "douce" was printed
on another. The meaning in French, "shower," is considerably less
Realizing the hazards of this campaign, Coca-Cola canceled the
campaign and plans to destroy the potentially offensive caps.
Coke is also getting flack for its sponsorship of the 2014 Olympics
in Sochi, Russia. In this case, the winning combination of elite
athleticism and high-fructose corn syrup is backfiring because of
Russia's antediluvian anti-gay discrimination laws and the recent
surge in anti-gay hate crimes. A new Russian law allows police to
detain anyone, including foreigners, for promoting same-sex
relationships. Just wearing a rainbow t-shirt could get you
arrested at the games.
Other US brands, such as
Procter & Gamble
coming under fire
for sponsoring the games, too. So far, they are staying committed
to the sponsorship despite protests because there might be someone
in the universe that is unaware of their products and services.
Coke doesn't allow discrimination based on sexual preference in its
own hiring. And presumably, the company doesn't condone insulting
disabled people, either.