Thursday, October 9, 2008

Offensive t-shirts

Regarding the offensive t-shirts I posted: Anonymous said:

I wish you wouldn't post that stuff, just gives them another opportunity for promotion.

Leave them to their evilness

I have mixed feelings about that as well. Knowing that the few people who read are not going to be rushing out to purchase products which are insulting to individuals with disabilities, I decided to post it. The reason I posted the information, is that I want to bring awareness to those who do not have a loved one with a disability, that slang words and phrases that tend to be repeated carelessly can be very hurtful and offensive to some. I know you don't usually see people wearing t-shirts like that, but how often do you hear people referring to someone as a "retard", or something undesirable as "retarded". I know most people do not mean it to be offensive, but I have enough friends with a child with a disability, that I know there are some strong feelings out there about this, and I hoped to make people aware that their flippant comments are hurtful. 

Susan in KY left this comment: 
I just called the company and complained - at great length, in great detail. Got some young woman in PR who transferred me to a young man (Ryan someone) in marketing - he said they serve as a clearing house for those who create a wide variety of things, and first said they had no guidelines for content or offensive items - but when I pressed him (with racist examples), he caved.

They DO have guidelines for such junk. Just not the "retard" line. Then he claimed the word has taken on new meaning which isn't intended to be hurtful. I pounced on that, with examples of "slow" children who can read, go online, certainly read others' T-shirts - and who can ask questions about why they are being called names, families of special needs children (including myself - not Down syndrome kids, but other exceptional kids), and friends, health professionals, teachers, caregivers, and the whole community of people who cherish these children.

I told Ryan I'd worked with kids for 28 years - all kinds of kids, special needs and typical, and I knew teens currently are using the ugly term as a sort of generic insult where my own generation might have used "stupid" instead.

But it makes no difference, I said. It's offensive. And implying that it's meant to be funny, is different from and less offensive than using a racial slur, or is a censorship matter is a whole series of red herrings.

This company is marketing someone else's ugly goods. I wasn't able to learn who actually designs and makes these ugly things. But both the creator of these wares - and the marketer,, are guilty of making money by causing pain to the most innocent of all children, and to those who care about and love them. No excuses - they should bear the moral responsibility for their choices.

Several of the CafePress board members' biographical sketches mention how much they cherish their own children - they coach sports, term their kids beautiful, love them more than anything, etc. All well and good. But don't they realize that special needs kids are as worthy of love just as much as are their own children? How would they feel if their own innocent children were insulted and hurt in such a carelessly derogatory, callous, cruel and hurtful way?

CafePress's phone number is (877)889-1659. You'll get a recording, but can reach a real human being fairly quickly. CEO is Fred Durham; the VP of Marketing is Amy Mianiatis. Perhaps if enough people call and object to these wares, we'll see a change. I don't belong to ARC, but perhaps they'd welcome notification.

I hate to waste my time on negativity - but sometimes you have to stand up for what's right, even if it does lead to verbal conflict.

BTW, I also referred Ryan to this website - hope he and his coworkers take a good long look.

Susan in Ky
Cousin to two from Ukraine
and cousin to two others with special needs

Thank you Susan for taking the time to do this, and for being bolder than I.


Rebecca Rovenstine said...

I can't imagine people would actually make money off apparel like that. In time I'm sure they'll realize it isn't worth the cost if the advice doesn't do the work.

Susan said...

Thanks, Charissa-

I don't know that I was "bold" - just mad! And offended, and a lot of other negative emotions. But I tried to put some head with the heart and although I pressed Ryan quite hard, I remained civil thoughout the phone call. I'm glad I was able to keep some degree of self-control, under the circumstances.

Thanks very much for adding my message to your blog. The more people who are aware of this issue, the better, imho.

Thanks again,
Susan in Ky

p.s. Miss Ava is really steppin' out! I loved the video! What a cutie. I was a late walker but eventually learned by pushing a very stable little yellow chair in front of me, according to my mother. Maybe another little yellow chair would help Ava - she's obviously got the idea of walking and is excited by the prospect.

Qadoshyah said... is a place where anybody and everybody can make a design, upload it and order it for their own use or sell it to the world. There are certain guidelines, but not very specific.

They have a lot of good things on Cafepress, but because it's open to everybody, there's some nasty things on there, unfortunately, like the shirts you mentioned.

I know because I have used them to make shirts - they have very nice printing for a decent price.

If cafepress gets enough complaints from the DS community, maybe they will add in some of these words & things to their guidelines. I know that others on some of the DS yahoo groups I'm on have talked to Cafepress and they have been able to remove some of the items.

~ Qadoshyah

Carson's Mom said...

I have heard the same thing from them before. They may have some wonderful things out there, but I will never buy them. If they don't mind making a buck off of the trash, they can keep all the rest as well. Thanks Susan for taking the time to educate- it is a slow process.


little dalene said...

Cafe Press is actually the same company that makes everything for the Peace Corps. Interesting that a government agency also uses this company...