Tuesday, November 27, 2007

provocative t-shirts

From Korri Kezar in the San Antonio Express-News (hat tip: C-J), an article on Politeeds-- a Dallas company producing t-shirts with policy questions..."If the shirts make anyone pause for even just a few moments, then I've accomplished what I wanted to accomplish."

When is a T-shirt not just a T-shirt? When it's Politeed, according to Sherry Henry, CEO of the Dallas company.

Politeed shirts blare questions asking onlookers to consider what side of an issue they're on. Some ask, "Are gay rights civil rights?" while others ask "Do illegal immigrants contribute to the prosperity of the United States?" The concept behind the clothing is to spark meaningful thought on political issues without revealing what side the wearer is on.

"Most people don't want to discuss politics as if it is a taboo to do so because someone might get angry at what you say," says Henry, one of the forces behind the T-shirts. "I believe the opposite, in that if you don't talk about the issues you will never break down the barriers and find a commonality.

"If the shirts make anyone pause for even just a few moments, then I've accomplished what I wanted to accomplish."

I doubt that a t-shirt will start very many conversations, but it might lead to a few more meaningful thoughts from passers-by...And it might spark some hostility!

Henry claims her shirts are neither right nor left wing. "A question is just that — a question. It is how you interpret the question and your experiences that make the question liberal or conservative," she says.

But some find the shirts inappropriate or abrasive. "In looking at the shirts, it's easy to find them offensive," says Devine High School junior Cody Asher. "Some of them are almost like accusations."

Yes and no to each of you. Questions are often useful. But some questions are leading-- and could be considered offensive. Beyond objective standards of what would be objective vs. leading questions, one can be sure that one's belief structures may encourage people to see innocuous questions as offensive. Ironically, two people with widely varying views might see the same question as equally offensive, inferring that it leads to something it does not.

In any case, this is surely an improvements over a fad that drove me crazy in grad school. In the late 1980s, it was popular to wear shirts saying "End Racism"-- with respect to South Africa. End racism? What a bold stand! Why bother? I asked a handful of people why they didn't get a shirt that said "Divest now" or proposed some other policy. I'll take a provocative (and even a leading) question over a self-righteous platitude any day!

In case you're interested in their products...

Shirts are available online at politeed.com for $28.95...All items are made in Los Angeles...

Expensive-- and ironically, they're trying to be politically correct with "made in the USA"!


At December 6, 2007 at 12:12 AM , Blogger sweths said...

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