Gibson: The Tea Party's Guitar Company

You know Gibson must be in serious and deep trouble when it begins to spew the kinds of bizarre histrionics you'd expect to hear from the Tea Party, Libertarians, Fox News, Glenn Beck, racists, prairie populists, hillbillies, Know Nothings, and other fringe kooks and anti-social types that make the American political landscape so damn interesting.

Ever since the feds raided Gibson and put the big hurt on the company Gibson's CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, and his public relations personnel have gone out of their way to portray the whole thing as a vast socialist (or is it fascist?) conspiracy. The Green Gestapo is out to get us all; they're going to kick our front doors down and drag our guitars out in the front lawn and burn them....Oh, the hysteria.

Gibson issued all kinds of outlandish claims ranging from SWAT teams, the presence of automatic weapons, and that their employees were herded out at gunpoint. None of this was true, of course, unless you are a regular viewer of Fox News where fantasy is better than facts. (On a side note, an American university has found that Fox News consumers actually know less about the world than people who ignore the news altogether. Pretty bad when you know less than those who know nothing).

Instead of addressing the issue as a specific business/compliance problem that can be fixed Gibson attempted to frame the situation as a universal political problem that affects all guitarists, and indeed, all free citizens. In essence: we should all be afraid. Instead of this being the case of a manufacturer apparently in violation of the Lacey Act and CITES (again) we find Gibson turning the tables and making themselves out to be the victim -- now we're all victims, you're in this mess with us. And you have to get us out of it by signing petitions, etc.

The result? Instead of addressing the problem in a rational 'business' manner and calming down its customer base with appeals to facts and logical analysis the company actually added to the confusion and speculation. It also turned their guitars into objects of suspicion on the part of consumers. On the infamous Gear Page we find people wondering out loud about which Gibson guitars are safe and which ones will land a person in Sing Sing. What was a compliance problem turned into a debacle. What was a one-company problem was spun into a paranoid fantasy where the International Bogeyman was going to get us all.

I noticed that Gibson has recently created a FaceBook support group for those who wish to throw some of their moral support behind the embattled guitar maker. What I found most interesting is the reactionary and really dismal comments left behind by Gibson's newly energized and agitated customer base.

With this move Gibson just sided with the bumpkins and the down-and-outers and effectively estranged itself from anyone with a lick of sense, i.e., the rational middle (ironic, considering the prices of a Les Paul these days means that few hayseeds and other downwardly mobile types can even afford one). So why has Gibson been raided? Because Obama hates the company? Was Martin Guitars behind it? New World Order Conspiracy? Or could it be that Gibson was just sloppy and sneaky or knowingly broke the law that other guitar manufacturers in this country are following? In terms of compliance, this stuff is child's play compared to what highly regulated industries have to go through (think pharmaceuticals, etc.).

Compare Gibson's version of events to this calm, rational explanation:

Round two:

And read the affidavit for yourself if you want:

Alternatively, if you don't like facts and objective, calm analyses you can just go on imagining all kinds of crazy conspiracy theories and live in self-perpetuating fear and paranoia. I guess it should come as no surprise that a company known more today for its irrational decisions and marketing disasters should also be plagued by an irrational political imagination and delusional fantasies (or simply know what buttons to push to agitate the bee hive). In the matter of a few days Gibson went from being a 'great American guitar company' (led by a nut) to an organization with the same moral taint and credibility as Fox News and Tea Party reptiles hell bent on trashing the earth at any cost.