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T-shirt Vendor Profits from Mohammed Cartoon Conflict

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posted on Feb, 10 2006 @ 12:46 PM

Internet T-shirt Vendor Profits from Mohammed Cartoon Conflict

To see the latest creation from conservative t-shirt maker MetroSpy some would think the Muslim world had every right to be upset. MetroSpy's new t-shirts depict an unflattering caricature of the prophet Mohammed with a bomb on his head...

“We can't let the terrorists win. We can not encourage this uncivilized behavior by caving in to their wishes,” said Nate Thomas, product manager for MetroSpy

On their website (, MetroSpy denounces the tactics of Islamic extremists and encourages its customers to stand up against terrorism. "Failing to print these images mean the terrorists have won", the site says.

“We wanted a simple way to exercise our freedom of speech and to stand up to the terrorists. This design was perfect,” said Thomas.

Surprise. Surprise.

I wonder how many who buy these T-shirts will be willing to travel to the Middle East while wearing them....

In fact, I encourage all those who buy one to do so... Report back to us on ATS regarding your experience.

...if you can.

[edit on 10-2-2006 by loam]

posted on Feb, 10 2006 @ 12:55 PM
I support these shirts. There is nothing wrong with them, its a free country!!

-- Boat

posted on Feb, 10 2006 @ 01:25 PM

Originally posted by Boatphone
I support these shirts. There is nothing wrong with them...

Why am I not surprised?

Supporting the T-shirts and supporting free speech are two different exercises.

I'm glad you are on record for both.

[edit on 10-2-2006 by loam]

posted on Feb, 10 2006 @ 01:56 PM
I try and be tolerant of stupidity. If I can, I look the other way. I do not, however, support it.

posted on Feb, 10 2006 @ 02:35 PM
Thomas Crowne:

That could not have been said better by anyone!

Why are there so few who see that??? There are times when it feels like we are surrounded by blind extremists on both sides.

[edit on 10-2-2006 by loam]

posted on Feb, 10 2006 @ 03:17 PM
I dont have a problem with the T-shrit.
I wonder how people would react if the T-shrit depicted a Christan figuer in a simila way?

posted on Feb, 10 2006 @ 03:46 PM
Aw man that's hillarious. If I wanted to commit suicide, I'd just wear one of those and walk into a crowd of Muslim protesters. If you're gonna go, might as well go in style.

posted on Feb, 10 2006 @ 05:21 PM
Mark your calendars. I agree with Boatphone!

I feel so...

Whatever our judgment is of this t-shirt maker, his intentions, his intelligence or his character, along with his right to free speech comes his right to determine how to exercise it. We ALL have that, don't we?

What good is free speech if we don't have the freedom to choose how to use it? (As long as it doesn't hurt anyone, i.e. yelling fire in a crouded room, etc.)

How can you say, "I support free speech, but I don't support the way that guy's using it"?

posted on Feb, 10 2006 @ 05:57 PM

I will always defend free speech... but I think you are missing my point.

There is a difference between offending someone as a consequence of my free speech and intentionally doing so.

Both should be a protected right. I would not support governmental interference with that. But the latter is counter to a civilized society.

As I said before, just because I have a right to be an ass, doesn't mean I should. It is my view that this is the very problem we have now on both sides of the cartoon debate....Meanwhile, there are a whole bunch of us in the middle scratching our heads asking WTF is going on????

[edit on 10-2-2006 by loam]

posted on Feb, 10 2006 @ 06:10 PM

Originally posted by loam
I think you are missing my point.

I don't think I am, I'm just being a pest.

There is a difference between offending someone as a consequence of my free speech and intentionally doing so.

Yes. I agree. Do you think this guy's intention is to offend or to make money? I think he's capitalizing on what's going on in the world. I don't think offense is necessarily his priority. I think most likely if it were a lovely picture of Jesus, he'd be cranking them out just the same. Or if he intended to offend, he'd have been making anti-Muslim shirts before all this came about.

From your source:

So far, the Mohammed t-shirt has become their best selling item of the year -- more than 120 orders the first day it became available.

[edit on 10-2-2006 by Benevolent Heretic]

posted on Feb, 10 2006 @ 06:25 PM

I don't know what his intention is, but my concern is that the masses who are rushing to buy those T-shirts absolutely intend to offend. I'm expressing my distaste for their motivations.... Nothing more.

Both extremes of this issue are ridiculous.

posted on Feb, 10 2006 @ 07:59 PM
As soon as I saw the shirt, I knew I had to have it.

"Add to shopping cart?" CLICK!

posted on Feb, 10 2006 @ 09:59 PM
I think both polar extremes in the great shirt debate are showing some serious phallic insecurity, so I'm pretty much in the same spot as TC.

The only thing more ignorant than using free speech as a flimsy excuse for provokations which are completely devoid of any intellectual substance is to actually reward the people who do so by getting riled up over it and resorting to violence.

Can I wear a shirt that says Jesus was gay? Sure I can, it's a free country. Does that shirt convey any kind of substantive message that truly even deserves to be called speech? Probably not.
Would I wear that shirt? No, I think the only explanation for having to add insult to injury like that when you're already screwing them upside down and backwards in a war is if you're insecure about your stamina in that activity, and perhaps even afraid that they'd be able to go a little longer and a little harder if the shoe were on the other foot.

Would I be willing to fight with somebody over that shirt, much less get so rowdy that troops had to fire on me? HECK no. I think the only explanation for having to try and kill people over an insult is because you're afraid that if you let them get away with it they'll feel superior to you, maybe even in a sexual context, and that wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for your suspicion that they just might be right.

I'm pretty sure ol' Siggy would say that this whole cartoon fuss is just a clash between a sexually insecure West and a sexually repressed East- they all need to go for a little vacation in Bankok, hold peacetalks over a bottle of booze, and agree that if one side will stop getting so pissed off about little things, that the other side will stop doing those little things on purpose, and maybe then we can get around to talking about the REAL problems.

posted on Feb, 10 2006 @ 10:35 PM
Well, I do support the T-Shirt. The reason being not the image, but the message that the freedom of speech will not be cowed in the face of terror. And do note, it is terror, and not responsibility, that has prevented newspapers from publishing these cartoons in America. I think there are 5 newspapers who have done it in all of America. No one wants to die for a political cartoon, though, so they're not publishing it. At least, that's Hugh Hewitt's take on it; I believe most publications are too cowardly to publish such an image.

If this were an image of...say...Christ in a gay orgy, instead of "the prophet" (may the peace his followers don't care for be upon him) with a turban shaped as a bomb, I would still support it. I might even buy the T-Shirt to support the freedom of expression, though I'd probably throw it out when it came in the mail, if Christians were doing this. I would also be just as vocal about the Christians rioting and killing as I have been about many, many other politically "correct" issues. Yet, Muslims aren't displaying this outrage over what's going on. Even some members of ATS, though I respect them and think them fairly level-headed, are supporting this terror campaign. It's not by supporting the actual killers, rioters and instigators, but they're still standing by censorship to restrict the free exchange of ideas where their beliefs are concerned.

I support this T-Shirt just as I support these T-Shirts. Why? Because without the freedom to express all ideas, no matter how offensive to some, we will move into a bubble that is accepting ignorance of ideas that are out there, but are just considered "illegal" just as love was illegal in the book 1984.

Thomas, we usually agree on political issues, but on this, we are polar opposites.

posted on Feb, 10 2006 @ 11:38 PM
As I have already said, I will always defend freedom of speech.

But let me ask you.... How do offended Muslims prevent or inhibit your freedom of speech? Do they have the backing of the US government? Will you be officially punished for your newest T-shirt collection?

Buying the t-shirt, when your freedom of speech has in fact never been impacted, serves only the purpose of provocation and disrespect.

Why can't opposition to radical Islam be expressed in a manner that does not also make as an enemy millions of Muslims who have otherwise shown tolerance and restraint in this matter?

If you disrespect what is important to people, they'll tend to do the same to you in return.

I have heard many Muslims complain that a few radicals have hijacked the image of their religion. The real help these radicals receive from us is from those who respond just as radically. It helps them justify their actions...and worse, persuades more to their cause.

Seeking common ground with non-radicals is NOT a weakness. It is a solution.

[edit on 11-2-2006 by loam]

posted on Feb, 11 2006 @ 03:25 AM
I feel like I misspoke in my earlier post with the "it's a free country" part, because you're not free to instigate violence.

I stand by the statement that both those who like the illustration in its own context (not just the freedom of speech context) AND those who react violently to it are just mad because they feel like the size of their genitals is being questioned.

Originally posted by junglejake
Well, I do support the T-Shirt. The reason being not the image, but the message that the freedom of speech will not be cowed in the face of terror.

I'm with you as far as not backing down from freedom of speech.
The question I ask myself is whether or not the image is honestly speech. What is speech?

1. A. The faculty or act of speaking.
B. The faculty or act of expressing or describing thoughts, feelings, or perceptions by the articulation of words.

The Bill of Rights is a practical document intended to preserve the practically applicable rights of the people. Obviously freedom of speech was intended as a protection of messages and ideas, not simply the right to pass air over one's vocal cords, so definition 1B is the defintion to work from.
So the question becomes, is the cartoon intended to express an idea, or is it an invitation to confrontation.

I was aware in coming into this thread that the Supreme Court has ruled against "fighting words", but what I did not realize until I did a little searching is that their rationale is almost word for word what I was thinking.

Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire

These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or 'fighting' words-those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. 4 It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas


The offense known as breach of the peace embraces a great variety of conduct destroying or menacing public order and tranquility. It includes not only violent acts but acts and words likely to produce violence in others. No one would have the hardihood to suggest that the principle of freedom of speech sanctions incitement to riot

If a form of speech is such that a reasonable person A. Would not gain any benefit from it. B. Would be provoked or incited to violence, it is "fighting words" and is not protected.

I am a big fan of John Stuart Mill thanks to On Liberty, because the utilitarian explanation of liberty gives objective logical weight to it. I agree with his explanation that the value of free speech and action (to the exclusion of doing harm) is in the advancement of human knowledge and understanding, and that nonsubstantive verbal attacks, or speech which encourages unjust acts, are not useful and therefore enjoy no right to defense.

Considering philosophy and law, it is obviously permissible to speak against religious violence, to advocate any religious ideology, including the decision NOT to embrace one or any religion, to make a statement as to what policy regarding some segment of society ought to be, etc. Note however that in the interest of preserving peace and order it is not forbidden that the timing, location, venue, etc be regulated (see Cantwell decision).

It is NOT permissible to make statements which will primarily function to disturb the peace. See the circumstances of the Chaplinsky decision, which upheld the arrest of a man who called a police officer "a damned fascist". Clearly the court would not hold that it is forbidden to criticize law enforcement, to call them fascists, or even to use strong language in reference to them. The problem with Chaplinsky was that his context made it clear that he was not merely conveying ideas but inviting a confrontation.

I believe that the cartoon right on the brink of being in that same classification, but I concede that this is a matter of perception, requiring a value judgement on the intellectual content of the cartoon, and it is doubtful that the Supreme Court would be in any great hurry to even accept this case because it would involve setting precedent on a very murky issue.

It's a tough issue. The illustration would not be unreasonable if it weren't for the expectation of an unreasonable reaction from those who oppose it. I understand why this would make it tempting to say that the problem is solely with the Muslims who over-react. Consider this analogy however:

There is nothing wrong, in a vacuum, with me saying that I suspect George W. Bush of being possessed by a demon. But if I say that to someone who I know is insane, with the knowledge that he will believe it and try to kill George W. Bush as a result, is the blame all on the patsy, or am I to blame for inciting violence through speech which would normally be OK?

Thanks for reading, I know I've been detailed.

posted on Feb, 11 2006 @ 10:01 AM
Most excellent post, Vagabond! Just a couple of points I'd like to make.

Speech is something different than Free Speech. Looking up 'speech' in the dictionary does not cover Free Speech as mentioned in the Constitution.



Adoption and the Common Law Background

Madison's version of the speech and press clauses, introduced in the House of Representatives on June 8, 1789, provided: ''The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.''
Commenting a year later to Madison on his proposed amendment, Jefferson suggested that the free speech-free press clause might read something like: ''The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write or otherwise to publish anything but false facts affecting injuriously the life, liberty, property, or reputation of others or affecting the peace of the confederacy with foreign nations.''

The case studies are states' laws, though. Do all states have these laws or in it just New England? In my opinion, these laws violate the First Amendment.

From your source:

New Hampshire - 1942

'No person shall address any offensive, derisive or annoying word to any other person who is lawfully in any street or other public place, nor call him by any offensive or derisive name, nor make any noise or exclamation in his presence and hearing with intent to deride, offend or annoy him, or to prevent him from pursuing his lawful business or occupation.'
It is now clear that 'Freedom of speech and freedom of the press, which are protected by the First Amendment from infringement by Congress, are among the fundamental personal rights and liberties which are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by state [315 U.S. 568, 571] action'

Today, I would fight it tooth and nail ( I shouldda been a litigator!) and I think I'd win.

posted on Feb, 11 2006 @ 12:15 PM
Nice find on the 1st Amendment, Heretic.

The wording of that second quote is pretty disturbing, I have to admit. It really goes to show that while we're hammering out an acceptible answer to the Muhammad cartoon thing, we might want to keep in mind that we're at the brink of the slippery slope.

Where all annoyance becomes "fighting words" I think it is clear that there is no right to be free from annoyance. Clearly the right to speak trumps the right not to be pissed off. I believe the line is drawn at injury.

Only when an annoyance comes to such a point where the average, psychologically healthy person would suffer psychological harm and/or be compelled to violence, either against the speaker or the object of the speech, does the annoyance become a breach of peace, and in practice such an address would likely have to be so persistent as to also be considered harassment.

Also note, before anyone scoffs at the idea that words can be injurious, or can ever justly compell violence, that many such words, in addition to their face value as epithets, are implicitly threatening of violence. If my car breaks down in a bad neighborhood, and three heavily tattooed steroid monsters come up and say "hey (explitive), what are you doing in our neighborhood", that's a threat- they aren't fixing to pull out their wrenches and help me get out of their neighborhood. To my mind, those are fighting words, and I'm gonna swing as hard as I can to even the odds before they ask for my wallet.

I think part of the problem is the subliminal nature of human communications. The subtext of words and images is as important as the text itself, and there's a certain animal understanding that challenges logical explanation, if not outright defies it.
In actual face to face speech, there is an innate understanding of body language, observable in nature, taught by our experiences since we were children, and perhaps even instinctive to us the level of "genetic memory" if such a thing truly exists.

In imagery and indirect communications, I believe there is a system of subtext which defines a line between conscious expression and subliminal communication of intent, including malicious intent. This is very new however, if I am even right about it existing at all, and is much more poorly understood.

Human advances from time to time challenge our codes of behavior to expand to meet new circumstances. Old legal codes, such as Hamurabi's, had to be expanded upon as our advancements caused the world to shrink, particularly as greater ownership and the expansion of life beyond matters of mere survival began to dictate the move to democracy, and this was impossible to accomplish to perfection in a single attempt- it took much review and many failures to even come this far. The world is shrinking at an exponential rate, and our laws much change with it. Eventually, if advancement doesn't top out, it will probably dictate a complete paradigm shift in regards to government and laws.

This cartoon could be the tip of a substantial iceberg.

posted on Feb, 11 2006 @ 01:50 PM

Originally posted by junglejake
I support this T-Shirt just as I support these T-Shirts. Why? Because without the freedom to express all ideas, no matter how offensive to some, we will move into a bubble that is accepting ignorance of ideas that are out there, but are just considered "illegal" just as love was illegal in the book 1984.

I think that that statement pretty much sums up my feelings on this matter.

At protests, you will see pictures/cartoons of the president that are revolting. Or you may see filthy pictures at an anti-abortion rally. Or, at military funerals there are protestors with very insensitive placards.

Were these images made with the purpose of offending? Of course they were. Are they protected expression. Yes, they are. You have to be very careful when you bring subjective judgements into this, because you're always bound to offend someone. And who's to say what is offensive and what isn't? The better question is, what is the acceptable response.

To say that a drawing that I am carrying offends you and therefore makes me reponsible for your reaction is absolving your guilt if you choose to crack my noggin. And that just doesn't cut it.

posted on Feb, 11 2006 @ 02:14 PM

Originally posted by jsobeckyTo say that a drawing that I am carrying offends you and therefore makes me reponsible for your reaction is absolving your guilt if you choose to crack my noggin.

Agreed, but where does offense end and HARM begin? Can I slap you, just a little, or maybe poke my finger in your chest? It won't really hurt you physically.
I'm not saying you can crack someone's head open for poking their finger in your chest, I'm just saying they can't poke their finger in your chest, and legally that can be assault, although you may be able to bargain down to disturbing the peace.

It's not a matter of what justifies violence, but a matter of what is not within a person's legal right to do. Speech is protected because the censorship of ideas, by it's very nature, unmakes a democracy. Speech which is not designed to convey ideas, but rather to provoke conflict, is not protected.

I can't poke my finger into your chest, and unless there is a very clear rationale and ideological subtext which gives no cause for a reasonable person to feel threatened, I can't display an image like this one.

Please note that this might make that image OK in some ways or for some people and not for others. I can probably put that image on the opinion page of a news paper. I can probably wear it on a T-shirt, in a vacuum.

But what if I go to a mosque in that shirt, glaring menacingly at the worshipers and cracking my knuckles?

What if I'm a racist who walks around town in a shirt like that shouting at the top of my lungs that Muslims are murderous pigs and should be purged from our society immediately?

When the image adds to a threatening context, or if it invites confrontation without some overriding ideological message, it ceases to be speech and is not protected.

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