Why Is This Allowed

My family and I were innocently walking through the grocery story last night, when we were visibly assaulted by an offensive shirt another patron was wearing. It was a red shirt with the "Keep Calm and ..." message on it. The latter part of the shirt read "or I will f*#@$ing kill you".  I was immediately angered. My wife said it was free speech and that you couldn't outlaw a t-shirt. At the heart of the issue was something more than outlawing a shirt:

  • The person wearing the shirt was endorsing a message that threatens other patrons, myself included. 
  • The designer of the shirt made light of human life, indicating that if you could not keep calm, you did not deserve to live.
  • Someone paid for the shirt in the first place.
  • Our society is corrupt when we make perpetrators feel welcome in public places, especially where there is a high likelihood of the presence of children.
Oh, the list could go on. I was fuming mad. I believe that your rights to free speech end when another person's rights are threatened. When you endorse a message that indicates you will kill someone should they not comply to your demands, you have overstepped the boundaries and no longer have those rights. 

Is it a bit of an over reaction on my part? At first, I was inclined to say yes. But the more I thought about it...no, I was not over reacting. I should feel that the grocery store is a safe place to take my kids. Our culture as a whole should make the expectation that if you endorse message like that, regardless of whether you are joking or not, then you are not welcome to join the rest of us. Threatening someone's life is not a joking matter. 

Why didn't I say something to guy? I have thought about this time & again. First, my children were present and there was potential for things to get ugly. If I were by myself, would I have said something? Probably not the perpetrator, where in it would cause a scene & honestly, don't know how that would resolve anything. In hind sight, maybe I should have talked to the manager about escorting the patron out.

What would you have done?


  1. Perhaps what you really need is a sense of humour.

    Your "rights" were in no way being threatened. Only your smug holier-than-thou self-righteousness.
    Indeed your entire website is a display of your smug self-righteousness.

    USA "culture" is wall-to-wall saturated with the threat of violence and dramatically enacted violence.
    Violence is quite literally in the air.
    It is brought to everyone by the military-industrial-"entertainment" complex, the death-saturated "values" of which permeate every fraction of USA "culture".

    Most of its "entertainment", is saturated with violence - even much of that which is supposedly "religious".
    Its entire history is one of violence. Systematic violence (genocide) against the original inhabitants and the African slaves. The systematic violence of institutional racism. The systematic violence that is promoted and even celebrated in most of American history, as taught (propagandized) in schools.

    Who would Jesus slice up, shoot, bomb and vapourize/smithereen with A-bombs, or MOAB bombs?

    The "culture" of violence is almost sacrosanct. in the USA. It is in-your-face promoted and given "official" sanction by the NRA and its associated "culture" of guns - that IS DEATH.

    The USA has one of the highest murder rates in the world. It is also one of the few countries in the world that still practices, and even celebrates capital punishment. Who would Jesus execute.

    In a free society anyone should be completely free to wear/display any kind of T-shirt message that they like.The only occasion that you are in any sense being really threatened is when anyone is actually dramatizing violence against your bodily person.

    1. Frederick:

      1. Thanks for taking the time to post.
      2. There is nothing smug about my righteousness. In fact, I am such a screw up and far from being righteous. My whole blog is just what I am struggling with in my growing faith.

      3. I get that there aren't any "rights" spelled out legally, but there has to be a point in which humor crosses the line. Should I be allowed to stand outside your home and call your mom a "slut" ad nauseum, b/c my friends think its funny? And if you were offended, then would this just be a lack of humor on your part?

      No, there's a lot wrong with the picture. I don't know your mom or her sexual activities. If I did, I shouldn't be announcing it to the world, because it's none of my business. And at the end of the day, I should have more respect for others than to do that.

      4. I agree that history, both religious & secular, is filled with violence. There is also a place & time it. The grocery store is not that place.

      5. No, I don't think that Christ would condone bombs and the sort. Don't make assumptions about me or my beliefs of what Christ would do.

      6. Freedom isn't true freedom without boundaries. The boundaries are grey and we could argue what defines those boundaries for eternity. However, just because someone wants to wear pornography on their shirt, doesn't mean that children should be exposed to it.