Pro-Terrorist Merchandise
June 9, 2003 10:22 PM   Subscribe

A certain Cafe Press store is selling pro-terrorist merchandise. Offensive? Yes, very. Does the owner deserver to have their freedom of speech revolked because of this? Apparenty, some think so.
posted by MrAnonymous (56 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: link no longer works and this about sums it up



 
Ah, Little Green Footballs. Say no more.
posted by dg at 10:25 PM on June 9, 2003


Yeah, I'm pretty conservative (pro-Bush, anti-taxes, etc), but this just blew me away. But I already ranted on this enough.
posted by MrAnonymous at 10:28 PM on June 9, 2003


There is no inherent right to use someone elses technology to get your point across. A group of incensed citizens (think of the rainbow coalition, for example) has every right to bring pressure to bear on businesspeople if they disagree with the way they do business. That's what boycotts are about, or at least, can be. The freedom of speech in the US constitution is a guarantee against state involvement. Community or self censorship is not contemplated.

The freedom of Cafepress's speech isn't contemplated in your calculus either. If they feel the need to censor, they may, they're not a common carrier.

There's a difference between "freedom to speak" and "freedom to be enabled to speak."
posted by swerdloff at 10:51 PM on June 9, 2003


Who has to buy it? I don't really find it offensive, so much as misguided. No skin off my nuts though... I have this unique ability where t-shirts don't hurt me when I see them.
posted by Hildago at 10:57 PM on June 9, 2003


The only thing better than reading conservatives piss all over themselves in indignation is reading liberals piss all over themselves in indignation.

... and vice versa. ;-P
posted by mischief at 11:11 PM on June 9, 2003


Hilarious.
posted by Resonance at 11:11 PM on June 9, 2003


I'm reminded of John Cleese's response when asked how he felt about the people who tried to ban or boycott the film Life of Brian:

"They have in fact made me rich."

It would be quite entertaining if the owner of this particular CafePress shop were to post to that forum to thank them for the valuable publicity. Well, it'd be entertaining for the three seconds they'd allow the post to remain up.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:12 PM on June 9, 2003


This is by far the most offensive site I've seen all week.

That shade of green should be OUTLAWED.
posted by oissubke at 11:13 PM on June 9, 2003


I must have missed the calls for bans on praising or distributing Bin Laden baby bibs.

"First they same for the writers,
then for the bibmakers..."
posted by RobbieFal at 11:19 PM on June 9, 2003


What no thong?
posted by jeblis at 11:19 PM on June 9, 2003


The only thing better than reading conservatives piss all over themselves in indignation and reading liberals piss all over themselves in indignation is reading smart-asses who like to think of themselves as 'above the fray' metacommenting on it all.

Also, Charles Johnson the hate-pimp can eat the corn out of my poop. Pathetic, banal, laughable.

(Whoops : I screwed up my meta-meta-commentary by getting nasty, there... but then again, perhaps in being self-referential in this aside, I've kicked it up to the next level!

Hooray for me, and scatological insults too!)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:22 PM on June 9, 2003


Yeah, the LGF kiddies are running around like someone stepped on their nasty little ant's nest over this one. For a bunch of tough-ass conservatives, they're pretty easily offended, eh?

Come on... Osama on a baby's bib - did it occur to the oh-so-highly-offended ones that this is store is probably pretty much a juvenile prank? After all, anyone can put anything on CafePress at (still?) no cost, can't they?
posted by Jimbob at 11:22 PM on June 9, 2003


(By the way, I think the most interesting issue in the whole debate is the "liberal" use of the delete button in the LGF comments section).
posted by Jimbob at 11:27 PM on June 9, 2003


Jimbob: I believe it's fairly expensive to use now... so I've heard.

Also, what's with the green bird? I must have skipped Terrorist symbolism 101 the day they gave that lecture.
posted by Espoo2 at 11:32 PM on June 9, 2003


A Bin Laden bib?! This has to be a joke.
posted by homunculus at 11:33 PM on June 9, 2003


George Spiggott: something tells me that comparing a bibmaker and a popular movie isn't going to hold up. But, somebody would most surely freak out if millions of bibs were ordered. I doubt they're really experiencing any more activity than usual. It's not like CNN.com or Yahoo is talking about "Guy selling bibs of Bin Laden" or anything.

I should note that on last check, this could get ugly. Especially with people possibly crossing over there to post and all that stuff.

But, back to the bibs. Somebody's just overreacting a bit, aren't they?
posted by RobbieFal at 11:41 PM on June 9, 2003


Although, on rechecking. The site behind the bibs, JUS (Jihad Unspun) is marketing a very stupid and offensive product. If Osama baby bibs is humor, then what exactly is the reasoning to make it funny? "Hahaha, you kid has Osama"

The LGF link seems a bit unneeded. Unless the FPP intended to start some sort of massive flamewar. I don't think there is much to really discuss. Main points: Yes, they're stupid for their product, no they probably shouldn't have their Freedom of Speech revoked (an absurd conclusion), Cafepress could shut them down because it's their business and a very large majority of you dislike LGF. Did I miss any points here?
posted by RobbieFal at 11:48 PM on June 9, 2003


If they are so much opposed to t-shirts depicting murderers, why don't they try banning Charles Manson or 31st Airborne t-shirts?
posted by spazzm at 11:49 PM on June 9, 2003


And here, of course, is a link to the site behind the bibs: Jihad Unspun.

In case people are too lazy to google it.
posted by spazzm at 11:58 PM on June 9, 2003


Looks like the store has been deleted by CafePress now.
posted by tomorama at 12:14 AM on June 10, 2003


I posted on LGF, but I'll repeat what I said there: it just doesn't make any business sense for us to sell inflammatory and potentially very offensive schwag just to make a buck. That's why it's in our member agreement, and that's why those shops are now closed.

And I'm personally offended by stuff like this, and I certainly don't want people thinking that I or the company I work for (CafePress) endorses this kind of thing. That's why I'm posting here.

p.s. We actually like the green, thankyouverymuch. :-)
posted by jeddings at 12:22 AM on June 10, 2003


Holy overreaction, Batman.
posted by spazzm at 12:25 AM on June 10, 2003


No sense of humour...
posted by Resonance at 12:27 AM on June 10, 2003


Well.. that was resolved rather quickly
posted by RobbieFal at 12:32 AM on June 10, 2003


Okay... the link doesn't seem to work any more. Anyone want to tell me why it's offensive?
posted by twine42 at 12:35 AM on June 10, 2003


swerdloff: Having the right to do something does not always mean it is right. I hate the logic in your comment, because it's such a common excuse. Conservatives usually trot it out in defense of capitalism, but censorship is the most offensive use of it. No -- the most offensive use of it is in defending segregation.

The same argument is used when people delete comments on their messageboard. "Property rights are important to me." Yeah, right. Being a jerk is the more likely motivation.

This is one of those cases where it would be wrong to apply logic. Logic makes people feel like they can do whatever they want to sometimes. This one of those times when you just need to stop and think: What am I doing? Unfortunately, the people on warblogs never do that.
posted by son_of_minya at 12:40 AM on June 10, 2003


Oh dear god. That was it?

Some people need to get their priorities in life sorted out. If that sort of thing offends you so much the real world is really going to f**k with your head...
posted by twine42 at 12:41 AM on June 10, 2003


It is never wrong to apply logic. If you get something wrong out of a logical thinking process then you put something wrong into it. I don't see that logic has much to do with it.
posted by nthdegx at 12:56 AM on June 10, 2003


Anyone have a screen capture or temp files or... ?
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:05 AM on June 10, 2003


Ah, but stav, dear, I have this thing for panties, particularly those in a wad.
;-P
posted by mischief at 1:19 AM on June 10, 2003


Ah, but stav, dear, I have this thing for panties, particularly those in a wad.

Mmm, panties.

Also : in my calm, considered opinion, Cafe Press can go fuck themselves. I'd like to see Mr Bin Laden's head on a stick as much as the next person, but that's not the issue here.

If I weren't so apathetic, I'd be tempted to spend an hour a day for the next few weeks just creating new Cafe Press stores with Osama-pic merchandise just to piss them off, and recommend anyone else with too much time on their hands do the same.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:43 AM on June 10, 2003


Does the owner deserve to have their freedom of speech revoked?

How exactly could this occur, anyway? Does an FBI agent turn up and take away your free-speech badge or something?

Is Ashcroft up to more assclown shenanigans that hasn't been reported yet? Or is the FPP just being silly? ;)
posted by kaemaril at 1:53 AM on June 10, 2003


twine, insomnia, me... wanna know what the fuss was about. Anyone care to describe the bib so that we can get offended too?
posted by dabitch at 2:26 AM on June 10, 2003


wait, that was it? just Bin ladin on a bib? No horrible headlines or anything?

not offensive, shop should have remained open.
posted by dabitch at 2:30 AM on June 10, 2003


jeddings: 'it just doesn't make any business sense for us to sell inflammatory and potentially very offensive schwag just to make a buck'

The first thing I encounter upon opening the CafePress shop site?

'SHOCK AND AWE YOUR DAD FOR FATHERS DAY!'

Maybe this is acceptable to you jeddings, but I don't think you have to be too sensitive to find that personally offensive. I am sure I could easily find plenty of products within the CafePress site that would offend somebody, somewhere.

Conclusion: I am with stavros, CafePress can go and self copulate.
posted by asok at 2:33 AM on June 10, 2003


What I find humorous is the level of uproar of the folks over at LGF about the Bin Laden bibs. Just a quick search of Cafe Press turned up a nice collection of truly offensive Jesus items, but then I guess it's ok to show Jesus getting a blow job or Jesus as a naked woman or how about Jesus thongs. Or how about some antisemitism apparel or Hitler tees ... and this one would really blow their minds. Maybe they haven't noticed them yet.

The fact is that you can go to Cafe Press, and you can find just about anything to offend just about anyone. Who cares. Let them sell Osama Bin Laden bibs ... just don't buy one. And what dabitch said ... just a photo of Bin Laden, not as offensive as some of the ones I just posted in my opinion.
posted by Orb at 2:34 AM on June 10, 2003


I have to wonder about these people. Do you think those people who complained to cafe press also wrote to tshirthell's isp for their I (plane) NYC tshirts?
posted by twine42 at 3:09 AM on June 10, 2003


Nice job, Orb. Q true classic.

Does "it doesn't make commercial sense" Jeddings - or any other of the offended parties - have anything to add after the discovery of the "Allah is my co-pilot and he doesn't know how to land" t-shirt? Do we have more indignation and deletions on the way?

A true classic, I tell ya.
posted by magullo at 3:16 AM on June 10, 2003


"Does an FBI agent turn up and take away your free-speech badge or something?"

I think the old saying goes something like this:
"It ain't free speech if using it means loosing your job."

Feel free to replace "job" with "cafepress store", if you are thus inclined.
posted by spazzm at 3:35 AM on June 10, 2003


it's sad that members of this community actually take "I dance on her grave" LGF seriously. do we also care about what these guys say, too?
posted by matteo at 3:43 AM on June 10, 2003


No, matteo, it's not sad that members of this community actually take LGF seriously, what's sad is that these cowards at CafePress took them seriously, and folded at the first breath of righteous, halfwit indignation.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:49 AM on June 10, 2003


So when are cafepress going to start making asshats? An Osama asshat would rule.
posted by walrus at 4:05 AM on June 10, 2003


"Are you guys ready? Let's roll!" - The LGF staff before they contacted Jeff Eddings at cafepress.
posted by the fire you left me at 4:53 AM on June 10, 2003


From the (and I can scarcely believe I'm typing this) CafePress 'HitlerWear' section Are you female and anti-semetic? Then this shirt is for you! Wear it with Nazi pride!

it just doesn't make any business sense for us to sell inflammatory and potentially very offensive schwag just to make a buck

'Course not...
posted by backOfYourMind at 4:58 AM on June 10, 2003


Looking at the LGF page, is anyone else reminded of the old Gary Larson cartoon with the scientists peering through an observation window into a room of galavanting morons. The caption read: "Of course they're fools Gentlemen. The question is what sort of fools?"

Whilst googling for the cartoon, I had no idea there had been such a ruckus about websites with Larson's cartoons on them...
posted by dmt at 5:07 AM on June 10, 2003


This isn't a freedom of speech issue. CafePress is a private company, they don't have to allow anybody to sell anything. Little Green Footballs has the right to demand boycotts as well. I personally would've just ignored it but instead the folks at Little Green Footballs goose-stepped themselves into a frenzy. The guys selling the Osama bibs are like the kids in class who would try and get attention by being insulting and immature. The denizens of Little Green Football are the brown-nosed little geek that got them their attention by complaining to the teacher.
posted by substrate at 5:11 AM on June 10, 2003


I was siding with CafePress until I saw Orb's post. WTF? Osama's bad, but nazis kiling jews is okay? I do believe Cafepress has the right to sell whatever they want, but a consistent corporate policy about "offensiveness" would be nice. Now they just look like they got scared by a bunch of reactionary whiners.
posted by monkeyman at 5:27 AM on June 10, 2003


Yes of course LGF has the right to be dumb. But we have the right to point it out. Loudly. And to laugh at them and generally pour scorn on their silly little operation. So it's all good. By right-winger logic, if LGF kicked up a stink about the OBL bib and not the Nazi store they must be Nazis themselves. 'if you're not with us you're against us' after all..
posted by Space Coyote at 6:05 AM on June 10, 2003


Silly people. Clearly the reason for these shops is for your government to identify the sort of people who buy them. Good luck...
posted by demo at 6:12 AM on June 10, 2003


And I'm personally offended by stuff like this, and I certainly don't want people thinking that I or the company I work for (CafePress) endorses this kind of thing. That's why I'm posting here.

Hey, that's great, Jeff. I'm personally offended by your actions and I don't want people thinking CafePress is using you as its spokesman. That's why I posted this to their contact page and the company supervisor:
Recently, a thread appeared on the right-wing conservative website Little Green Footballs, noting a specific CafePress store that sold merchandise LGF users found “offensive.” These included t-shirts and other items bearing pictures of Osama bin Laden and messages promoting Palestinian groups related to terrorist attacks.

While the messages implied by these products were, understandably, offensive, I was more offended by the gall of CafePress’s rationale for removing this store. On the website MetaFilter, a user claiming to be an CafePress employee (identified as jeddings or Jeff Edings) posted this statement in defense of the store deletion:
I posted on LGF, but I'll repeat what I said there: it just doesn't make any business sense for us to sell inflammatory and potentially very offensive schwag just to make a buck. That's why it's in our member agreement, and that's why those shops are now closed.

And I'm personally offended by stuff like this, and I certainly don't want people thinking that I or the company I work for (CafePress) endorses this kind of thing. That's why I'm posting here.

p.s. We actually like the green, thankyouverymuch. :-)
Though I understand that, like most businesses, affiliation with products can be judged merely by personal opinion as to what is offensive, I find it hard to believe that this is truly the case, when in the midst of this one store you have deleted for “offensive material,” you have chosen to remain perfectly content with “selling inflammatory and potentially offensive schwag just to make a buck” that other MetaFilter users pointed out such as:

Jesus receiving oral sex

Neo-Nazi and White Supremacist apparel

Shirts insulting and promoting racist views against Islam

One could also, of course, mention your tasteless decision to promote the upcoming holiday with the phrase “Shock and Awe your Dad for Father’s Day” on the CafePress home page.

I am aware that a private company is not beholden to the tenets of Free Speech. Though I am offended by all the exampled noted above, I had previously appreciated CafePress for its willingness to allow such viewpoints. I now realize that CafePress does not desire, not deserve, the respect I was willing to give it. The fact that these sites exist when you have proven today that you can instantly delete a store selling offensive material is proof that you have no problem whatsoever with profitting off of material any particular group may find offensive merely because they weren't lucky enough to be mentioned on a popular website.

Granted, your apparently-acting-as-spokesman employee has already expressed his support for a website which is renowned for its partisan, violent, and typically racist viewpoints. However, I would appreciate further clarification that his logic is as incorrect, hypocritical, and stupid as I think it would be to imply that Nazi propaganda is not offensive in the eyes of CafePress merely because no one has complained about the fact that you are, and have been, making profit off of it.
So if you are actually an official CafePress spokesman, I'm glad to know that you're a company that only feigns outrage at profitting off of offensive material when, in fact, you're caught doing it. Good job at "not ticking off your entire userbase," buddy.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:19 AM on June 10, 2003


I don't get it? Why don't you just let us know about the shops that violate our member agreement, and have us shut them down? The mere existence of these shops does not imply our tacit acceptance of them, but simply that we do not know about them, and have not had a chance to shut them down yet.

I've forwarded your example shops along to the person in our company who is responsible for handling these matters, and I'm sure they'll be shutting those shops down too.

I am not a spokeperson for a CafePress; merely a concerned employee. You're more than welcome to get the official view of how we feel about shops like this.

--jeddings
posted by jeddings at 6:48 AM on June 10, 2003


jeddings: And as a free speech-respecting consumer that's been purchasing a lot of T-shirts yesterday, your company's sanctimonious cave-in (along with your Little Lord Fauntleroy representation of such) pretty much ended any potential business you could get from me.
posted by ed at 7:17 AM on June 10, 2003


So if you are actually an official CafePress spokesman, I'm glad to know that you're a company that only feigns outrage at profitting off of offensive material when, in fact, you're caught doing it.

This seems unduly harsh, it seems to me that CafePress judging from jeddings, the membership agreement and their actions so far are doing a credible job of damage control. I would imagine that CafePress is not rolling in the bucks and that it could be argued that it would be an undue burden for them to monitor what is happening in every members space at all times.

I'm no fan of their overpriced schwag, but I don't think it's fair to hold them to a higher standard than any other provider of services. Before passing judgement why not give them more than a few hours to rectify a problem that is bringing them unwanted attention? Contrary to popular opinion, there is such a thing as bad publicity.
posted by cedar at 7:26 AM on June 10, 2003


Jeddings, that's not the "official view" yet. The current "official view" is here.

Just being accurate here.
posted by DBAPaul at 7:41 AM on June 10, 2003


I agree that Cafe Press has the right to shut down the site. According to their user agreement, they can do it. That's fine.

But the folks at LGF have no valid reason to protest it. Unless they are being unamerican in defense of America.
posted by MrAnonymous at 7:43 AM on June 10, 2003


So, let's recap. An image of Osama Bin Laden was reproduced on a cafepress t-shirt, which was then withdrawn due to the image being considered offensive. If someone could please communicate this fact to the relevant media people, then perhaps we can stop the constant bombardment with this offensive image to which I am constantly subjected by the tabloid press and television outlets. If it isn't good enough for cafepress, then it shouldn't be good enough for CNN either. And you still haven't answered my asshat question ...
posted by walrus at 7:49 AM on June 10, 2003


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