Fashion outlet Pacific Sunwear has been forced into pulling a t-shirt featuring an upside down US flag because some people on Twitter took offense to the item and demanded it be censored.
The store featured the shirt, designed by hip hop artist A$AP Rocky, as a counter culture item, designed to provoke debate over the troubled state of the nation.
The origin of the upside down flag dates back hundreds of years. It has been used traditionally by many different nations as a distress signal indicating a danger to life or property.
That fact, and the adoption of the image as an artistic and cultural statement, however, flew over the heads of the censorship warriors on social media, who unthinkingly assumed it was meant to be a purposefully disrespectful image, just for the sake of it.
Honestly. If you don't respect the flag of the United States, go to some other country whose flag won't "offend" you. 🇺🇸 #BoycottPacSun
— Becca Braly (@beccajoy__) May 25, 2015
— Hey LT (@HEYYLT) May 25, 2015
— tim rowley (@uofmfantr) March 15, 2014
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) May 26, 2015
To these people, seeing the US flag upside down hurts their feelings, and so the free speech and opinions of those who choose to buy and wear the garment doesn’t count.
— Ken Lee (@GolfingWithLee) May 27, 2015
— Jr's (@soleufa685) May 27, 2015
— Michael Lee Budlong (@MichaelLBudlong) May 26, 2015
"Wahhhh #BoycottPacSun! That shirt is offensive to the freedom troops fight for!" ::all while shitting on the 1st amendment::
— Natalie Knope (@Makeitplain_) May 27, 2015
Rather than simply choosing not to shop at the store, these ‘patriots’ embarked on a campaign to ban the offending item, and called for heads to roll.
— Jimmy Torres Jr (@Hyperz36) May 26, 2015
— SpeakTheTruth (@StopTh3Li3s) May 27, 2015
I keep getting told to #BoycottPacSun. But, I've never even heard of them until now
— semperfive-o (@wjfritts) May 26, 2015
And they succeeded, as Pac Sun issued the following statement:
“As a retailer grounded in youth culture, PacSun values artistic and creative expression through the brands that we sell in our stores. Out of respect for those who have put their lives on the line for our country, we have decided to stop selling the licensed flag t-shirt and are removing it from our stores and website immediately.”
PacSun will stop selling licensed flag T-shirt. Full statement here: http://t.co/OURJbnDKfU
— PacSun (@PacSun) May 25, 2015
The company added “We thank the men and women in uniform for their extraordinary service.”
It was not enough for some, who are still nursing their hurt feelings over the matter:
@PacSun doesn't matter that u will stop selling the shirts. What matters is that u allowed them to be sold. You are a disgrace to America.
— Eugene Taber (@etthegeek) May 25, 2015
— robin stern (@BoxTopChevy) May 25, 2015
— Jeanette (@jeanetteslife) May 25, 2015
U people outraged about a tshrt but when Our politicians LIE to us to start a WAR and kill thousands, UR all fine with it??#BoycottPacSun
— Mark M (@ninjatraderr) May 26, 2015
A$AP Rocky explained the notion of the image, stating that “The reason that those flags are upside down are because our world is upside down. We’re just trying to be understood.”
And for those who still think the image is disrespectful, here is military veteran Kristen Meghan explaining why that is simply not the case, and one must explore the meaning of the image and think about it more deeply to understand what is really trying to be put across.
Every person in the U.S. Military takes an Oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, that oath did not mention a flag. I understand many Americans view the U.S. Flag as a symbol of liberty and freedom which is why it is confusing they are not outraged at the dangers affecting individual liberty and freedom. There are so many things occurring at home that disrespect “Liberty and Freedom.” The logic that those who believe this country is in dire need of being resuscitated should somehow be met with threats of violence and met with online pitch forks is flawed. George Orwell once said, “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them”.
Those people not afraid to hold a flag upside down, a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property are actually displaying the flag as a form nonviolent protest against all things that are a threat to the Constitution. There are many photos online of military personnel, in uniform, holding the flag upside down. Their call for help should not be viewed as disrespect or disgrace, quite the opposite. These veterans acknowledge imminent threats to life and liberty.
@pacsun I'm a veteran and I get the statement behind the t-shirt. The union is in severe distress due to serial Constitutional violations.
— Sarcastic Texan (@TexanSarcastic) May 26, 2015
— Mitchell Duncan (@513mad) May 26, 2015
— R (@arunninfool) May 26, 2015
— Kathreen k (@luvbrasco) May 26, 2015
One commenter noted that the logo for popular TV show House Of Cards, an artistic cultural statement about the nation in itself, is also an upside down flag. Does it hurt your feelings? Perhaps #boycottHouseOfCards will now trend?
— Jailee Jacob (@jalisalashbaugh) May 26, 2015
Interestingly, PacSun is now also coming under further fire on social media for a completely separate tenuous reason. The store is currently carrying a line of clothing associated with celebrity Kylie Jenner, who this week sent out a tweet asking her followers to look into the phenomenon of chemtrails.
— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) May 27, 2015
— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) May 26, 2015
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) May 26, 2015
— SpeedReads (@SpeedReads) May 26, 2015
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) May 26, 2015
— Yakima Noah (@whydoyouhatejew) May 26, 2015
Obviously those who literally wished death on Jenner and PacSun over this have done extensive hours of research into chemtrails and are strongly of the opinion that they are a ‘conspiracy theory’, rather than a real environmental issue that should be further explored.
— Patchouli Jim (@PatchouliJim) May 26, 2015
Or perhaps it just hurt their feelings for someone to have an opinion they do not share.
As Bill Hicks once said, “Case F***ing closed.”
Steve Watson is a London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.