Get your bigot gear for tots


Today’s Sunday Life reveals how you can purchase Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) t-shirts and other accessories at the popular merchandise website Cafepress.com, where anyone can design an entire line of gear with simple uploading of images.

The article quotes Lagan Valley MP, Jeffrey Donaldson’s objection to the items for sale:

It’s appaling that t-shirts and other paraphernalia glorifying terrorism should be for sale on the same week dissident republicans made an attempt on a British soldier’s life.

That Oglaigh na hEireann should try to further its message by printing teddy bears and baby gros for children is both distasteful and hugely inappropriate.

Now, where else have I seen cuddly teddy bears glorifying terrorism?

Ah yes, at a recent Sinn Féin ard fheis in Dublin — with Aran-style jumpers displaying cross rifles, Irish tricolour and Plough and Stars flag, and the slogan “Tioceaidh Ar La” (“our day will come”).

I trust Mr Donaldson would be as offended at this offering by the largest Nationalist party in Northern Ireland Government.

And then there’s the ONH bib — get them converted before they can even speak.

This reminded me of my work at the Linen Hall Library and the Troubled Images project, where we digitised and annotated (mainly by Gordon Gillespie) over 3,500 posters and other ephemera.

The result was a CD-ROM with searchable content and audio essays (plug — available for sale at the Linen Hall Library).

Yes, the library’s Northern Ireland Political Collection has its share of baby bibs, “Proud to be a Prod baby”, and the like:

And items for children and adults alike:

And I hope Mr Donaldson would not approve such items of questionable taste.

On a more serious note, I was intrigued to find among the Cafepress’s offering of ONH items one described as “Cute Oglaigh na hEireann T-Shirt” (above).

The image it employs, a lithograph of a masked gunman with the caption, “Resistance”, and a quote by the 1981 hunger striker, Bobby Sands.

The ONH t-shirt demonstrates the contest for the memory of Bobby Sands.

Cafepress offers smaller businesses and individuals an opportunity to brand imagery and messages. Mr Donaldson (and surely others) have called for Cafepress to disassociate itself from ONH. Inspecting Cafepress’s content guidelines, I couldn’t identify a direct reference that would exclude ONH, or any other terrorists’ material:

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 glamorizes 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.

The list outlined above should NOT be construed as an exhaustive list of offensive material but rather as a general guideline for you to follow.

ONH’s material could signify “hate towards another group of people”, but doesn’t actually “depict violence” directly. But it is surely threatening to others.

In any case, it’s hard to argue that ONH’s material, and other that depicts bigotry, isn’t in poor taste.

 

Allan LEONARD is a peacebuilder. I do this through my personal and professional vocations, with learning, exploring, and reporting. My specialism is the politics of Northern Ireland, whose people and land I love and where I have made my home. I believe in the power of the arts for conflict transformation, through vision, sound, and performance. I work for a shared society and a #sharedfuture Views expressed here may not represent those of current or previous employers or associations.