Sunday, July 20, 2008

When Keepin' It Hipster Goes Wrong!!!

You guys know how much I hate overly quoting a news source, but sometimes the story is so bewildering, I can't help myself.

I'm trying to figure out who the biggest d-bag in this equation is: the moron who makes the shirts, or the moron who spends $70 on said shirt and catches a massive beatdown?

When a 25-year-old Manhattan graduate student who was assaulted Tuesday night got dressed that morning, she probably didn’t anticipate that her T-shirt would provoke four teens into shoving her, pulling out her earphones and spitting in her face.

The ugly incident over the ugly shirt took place at 8:30 p.m. in Union Square, Braun told Metro, when four African-American female teenagers accosted the student, cursed at her for her shirt and pushed her. According to the designer, the student walked away, but the girls followed her, one pulling the earphones out of her ears, another spitting in her face.

Then again, with a shirt sporting the slogan, “Obama is my slave,” it may have been wise to consider the possibility.

Now she’s suing the $69 shirt’s designer, Apollo Braun, for “all he’s got,” the designer claims.

But the Israeli-born Braun — born Doron Braunshtein — says what allegedly happened to his now-disgruntled customer isn’t his fault — and that his outrageous design reflects not his views but those of “ordinary WASPs.”

“For a lot of people, when they see Obama, they see a slave. People think America is not ready for a black president,” Braun told Metro from his five-year-old Orchard Street boutique.

Braun claims that after the customer — who did not return repeated calls from Metro — threatened to sue, he contacted his own lawyer, who assured him he was shielded by the First Amendment from any legal action.

This isn’t Braun’s first sartorial criticism of the Democratic presidential presumptive nominee. He has also sold shirts with slogans such as “Jews Against Obama,” “Obama = Hitler” and “Who Killed Obama?” — which he claims was so popular, he moved 1,200 pieces.

“I can’t stand Obama,” Braun says, adding that it’s not because the Illinois senator is black. “That’s the only thing I like about him. He opens the door for other minorities.”

“He reminds me of Adolf Hitler,” Braun explained, adding he does not like Obama because “he is a Muslim” — a thoroughly debunked myth.
Braun is certainly entitled to his opinion, this being America and all. So is the student. That's what the First Amendment is all about, the right to free speech.

On the flipside, just because you've got the right to say it (or wear it) doesn't mean others can't be offended, and exercise their right to whoop your ass in response. So I don't feel bad for any of the involved parties. They should all know better.

How ironic.

The lawsuit is another story altogether. The student (whose name is curiously not mentioned in this story - I smell a Grand Hu$tle here) assumed all responsibility for the message conveyed by the shirt when she put it on. The fact that she caught a beatdown as a result is hardly the manufacturers fault.

It's hardly an exact parallel, but if I wore a Polo shirt to a job interview and didn't get the gig, could I sue Ralph Lauren? Unlikely.

Peddlers of ignorance like Braun deserve their comeuppance. But reality is, as long as there's a market full of folks who'll pay $70 for a t-shirt with a slogan as hateful as Obama = Hitler, Braun's only a symptom, not the problem itself.

Question: Does the student have a valid lawsuit? Are you offended by this shirt? Do you smell a Grand Hu$tle here, or is it just me?

Obama ‘slave’ shirt sparks lawsuit threat [NY Metro]

[*] Hat tip to AnythingBlack.Net for the link.

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