Drawing Mohammed is Not a Crime at Skreened
Do you notice that PENDING tag underneath the shirt I designed last year to read, “Drawing Mohammed is not a Crime?” That PENDING tag is there because CafePress has determined that my shirt design is impermissible. The “Drawing Mohammed is Not a Crime” line of shirts has been pulled from sale by CafePress, and I have received no indication from the company that it will ever make the shirt available again.
When I click through on this image to determine why CafePress pulled this image from sale, I am informed that:
This image as been flagged as a possible violation of the CafePress.com Content Usage Policy and has been set to â€œpending statusâ€ which means it cannot be added to any product or available for purchased by the public.
The Content Usage Policy of CafePress states:
Below are some general guidelines that you can use to govern your actions over the types of content that maybe prohibited on CafePress.com.
General Guidelines for Prohibited Content
* Content that may infringe on the rights of a third a party.
* Items that make inappropriate use of Nazi symbols and glamorize the actions of Hitler.
* Use of marks that signify hate towards another group of people.
* Hate and/or racist terms.
* Inappropriate content or nudity that is not artistic in nature.
* Content that exploits images or the likeness of minors.
* Obscene and vulgar comments and offensive remarks that harass, threaten, defame or abuse others such as F*** (Ethnic Group).
* Content that depicts violence, is obscene, abusive, fraudulent or threatening such as an image of a murder victim, morgue shots, promotion of suicide, etc.
* Content that glamorize the use of “hard core” illegal substance and drugs such as a person injecting a vial of a substance in their body.
* Material that is generally offensive or in bad taste, as determined by CafePress.com.
There’s no nudity in the picture, there is no violence in the picture, there is no drug use in the picture, and the image of Mohammed isn’t exploiting a minor. There is no hatred expressed in the message, simply the information that “drawing Mohammed is not a crime.” That information is factual, and factually correct. That leaves the catch-all phrase “generally offensive or in bad taste, as determined by CafePress.com.”
Well, who can argue with that? I can’t, because that standard is wholly for CafePress.com to make declarations from. Certainly, it is within the rights of CafePress to decide that it is “offensive” to state that drawing Mohammed is a not a crime, or to sketch Mohammed. I’m not arguing that CafePress can’t yank a shirt with an image of Mohammed — a friendly Mohammed at that — from sale. It certainly can. But it shows the sort of moral values held by CafePress. Apparently, if you offend Muslim sensibilities, your work is verboten. Indeed, CafePress shortly thereafter sent us a message that declared:
At this time we have decided to remove all depictions of the Mohammed, as it is extremely offensive to the followers of Islam. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.
Content Usage Associate
The thing is, that’s a very particular decision, and an odd one within the context of CafePress, which permits postcards advertising Jesus Cigarettes (the smoke that saves), or permits a bumper sticker declaring that one should “Club Liberals, Not Sandwiches,” or permits another bumper sticker declaring that “the best way to change a liberal mind is with a rock,” or offers dozens of shirt designs with the message “bomb France” upon them. When we noted these Republican family values a few years ago, CafePress didn’t respond by yanking the items from the shop (not that we advocated their removal in the first place — we didn’t; they’re much too valuable an indication of Republican pro-violence attitudes). No, CafePress responded by telling us that our thumbnail representations of the violent Republican stickers were a violation of the Republican CafePress shopkeeper’s intellectual rights. When it comes to hitting Liberals over the head with a rock, CafePress is a staunch defender of the first amendment and even an inappropriately (hello, fair use clause) zealous prosecutor of copyright laws.
What’s the difference between Christians and Liberals and the people of France on the one hand, and Muslims on the other hand? What makes poking fun at Jesus acceptable, and advocating DEATH for Liberals and French citizens acceptable, while drawing Mohammed becomes impermissible for CafePress? Well, the week before we were informed that the Mohammed images would be yanked from CafePress, the CafePress website was the subject of a series of DNS (denial of network service) attacks. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think CafePress was attacked for reasons of intimidation. But it’s a shame that CafePress responded to this intimidation. I speak from experience. When we posted images of Mohammed here at Irregular Times a while back, we got threats from Muslim theocrats and then we had DNS attacks, too. For a time, the attacks shut down Irregular Times, and we were abandoned by our hosting provider. But rather than respond to these attacks by changing what we do, we simply found a service provider with guts, put Irregular Times back up, and waited out the subsequent rounds of attacks. When the Muslim theocrats figured out we weren’t going to play the “golly, we’re sorry we don’t follow Muslim rules of conduct, and we sure will from now on” game, they went away to go pick on someone else.
When we interact with others on a professional basis, such as printers like CafePress, we have to find out whether their moral calculus matches ours, or is at least compatible with ours. When it comes to shirts produced in sweatshops, CafePress has no problem offering their “cheap tees” that are cheap for an obvious reason, so we don’t offer those t-shirts for sale. When CafePress won’t permit us to place an image on a shirt because it offends their odd, selective sensibilities, we are forced to go elsewhere.
And that’s another reason that we are opening up and rapidly expanding a t-shirt shop through Skreened. It is certainly a plus that Skreened only prints on American Apparel shirts, which are made in a factory in Los Angeles with particular attention to workers’ compensation and rights. But it is just as much an attraction that when I asked Skreened’s Daniel Fox whether he’d take down a Mohammed shirt, Fox not only replied with a “no” but with a “Hell, no!”
This week, Fox has brought Skreened to life, and so this week, I’ve been able to bring the “Drawing Mohammed is not a Crime” shirt back to life, too:
And don’t worry: it’s not a crime for you to wear it, either.