Friday, May 25, 2007

illegal t-shirts

Ran across these t-shirst on the web today--they're selling for $22 here. They actually contain a printed list on front and back of 3155 U.S. troops who had died in Iraq through February 2007.

Apparently Lousiana and Texas have enacted laws outlawing the commercial use of the names of the war dead without their families' permission, and Arizon, Florida, and Texas have similar bills close to being enacted.

The families of some of the soldiers who have died have expressed chagrin at such a use of their deceased loved ones' names.

The guy selling the shirts, Dan Frazier, says they are expensive to produce and he is using them to make a political statement about the enormous cost of the Iraq War. He says his use of the names is constitutionally protected.

Here's a recentish article about the subject

What do you think? Should governments stop the production and sale of such shirts? How does the families' chagrin over these shirts weigh up against, for instance, the weight of tens of thousands of civilians who are likely to die in Iraq over the next year under U.S. occupation? What does it mean that while legislators and the families of dead soldiers are arguing over "exploitation" of the names of Americans who have died in Iraq, with their $3 starbucks lattes firmly in hand as they drive their $30,000 SUV's from meeting to meeting, children as well as adults in Baghdad have to deal with an amazingly high sense of physical insecurity, a third of the world's population is living on $2/day or less, and 30,000 children will die today from lack of clean water and sufficient calories? Would you wear one of these? I would, except I can't afford one right at the moment =) Your thoughts?


sonja said...

Yeah ... I'll buy one of those t-shirts.

Here's what I think about the government intervention ...

The First Amendment.

OTOH ... if the families are "chagrined" they are "free" to file suit against the manufacturer and get him stop producing them. The government should not be in the middle of it at all. I can think of several rather unbecoming gestures I'd like to make ... but I won't.

But it brings to mind this flag that was popular during the Revolutionary War.

John Smulo said...

How have I missed a blog with as cool of a name as yours?!

I personally don't care a whole lot what the government thinks on this one, I care what the family's think. And if they're upset by the use of the names, then I'd personally respect that.

However, I think that these shirts make a very necessary political statement that I do support. And I think that each person who died could have been represented some other way. For example there could be an "x" or something representing every solider who's died.

Benjamin Ady said...


Yeah, I kind of feel for the families as well. The thing is, .... it seems to me that by choosing to be a soldier and get involved in the war, these individuals chose to somehow place the meaning of their lives, and their names, in a bigger context than just that of their families. So it seems to me that somehow their families no longer own the meaning or the use of their names so specifically. Does that make sense? Mabye that's just incredibly arrogant of me to say. I hope not.

Glad you like the name of my blog =)


yeah, it's intersting to me how the way in which our nation was birthed in violence and individualism continue to be played out. Do you think it's reasonable to gently imagine that this flag, and the way in which it was violently stood up for, is somehow connected to our current flag, and the way in which we continue to use violence to promote our own intersts as a nation?

Benjamin Ady said...

I guess I was thinking about wearing the shirt as a great conversation starter, hopefully with the idea of getting to *listen* to other people's thoughts and ideas.

Anonymous said...

This is psychotic. These soldiers have been nothing but a symbolic exploitation of our "amazing", "unbelievable", "terrific" military. And when used in the context of the right wing agenda its perfectly fine even positive to use their names EVERYWHERE. However, the moment it becomes a different message...our first amendment is torn away from us like candy from a baby. These people chose to be part of something that is so severe, so extreme. They chose to be part of an invasion. The families need to accept that they are more than family members. These dead soldiers are symbolic of a severed relationship between the American Administration and many of its people. Deal with it.

Hopeful <3