Apparently hundreds of protestors complained that the new line of Asian-themed shirts from Abercrombie & Fitch were racist and offensive.
You can check out this news story to learn more about both sides of the issue before reading on, and you can see the whole line on this site if you’d like to judge them for yourself.
Last week, before the controversy erupted, I purchased a “Buddah Bash” shirt from the local Abercrombie & Fitch store. I didn’t buy it because I wanted to “perpetuate racist stereotypes of Asian-Americans,” but rather because I thought it was funny and cute. I like Buddah. I like Buddah imagery. And I like the pun of saying “Get your Buddah on the floor” instead of “Get your booty on the floor.”
Of course, immediately after they were pulled off the shelves, people started selling the banned shirts on eBay. Then eBay decided to cancel all auctions of these shirts. The auctions aren’t illegal, but eBay prohibits auctions that “promote or glorify hatred, violence, or racial intolerance.”
Okay, I’m not Asian-American, so I’d prob’ly feel differently if, for instance, they sold shirts with big-nosed Jews hoarding money. Therefore, I’m not angry at the protestors. They have every right to feel offended and to demand action from the retailer. And I’m not angry at Abercrombie & Fitch either. They didn’t mean to offend anyone, so when they did offend someone, they took corrective action. That was nice of them.
However, I am angry at eBay. If the company who made the shirts doesn’t want to sell them in light of protests, that’s their choice. But eBay didn’t make the shirts, and eBay doesn’t sell the shirts. And if eBay is going to stop these auctions because they are “racist,” shouldn’t they also stop auctions of, for instance, The Sopranos merchandise and videos, which portray Italian-Americans as gun-toting mafiosos? Shouldn’t they stop auctions of the book Huckleberry Finn because of its obvious racist content?
I think eBay is dealing with some freedom-of-speech issues here. And in the process, they’re only driving up the value of these banned shirts. Frankly, now I wish I’d bought more of them. Does anyone else agree that eBay crossed the line here? If I don’t think the shirts are offensive, is it still a hate crime if I try to buy or sell one?