Thursday, February 20, 2014

Utah Mom Spends Family Money For Censorship

judy-loves-coxFew friends of mine asked me what I think about the news story about a Utah Mom who went to a “Pac Sun” store at the local university mall and bought up the entire line of offensive T-Shirts to prevent anyone else from buying and wearing them. She’s planning on hanging on to them until day 59 of the guaranteed 60 day return period so that in the meantime nobody else can buy them, either. She also said that charges should be filed against this outlet and or the entire chain of stores because they violated the city and town’s decency laws.

What’s to say about this, especially from a Graphic Designer? Where can I start?

I would actually like to applaud the graphic designer or design team for coming up with this design of T-Shirts that caused a controversy so powerful that people are talking about their shirts. The photographer who took risqué photos of the woman or women who are in various states of nudity also deserves a lot of credit. Anyone who can create any design that generates news deserves a lot of a special commendation since it’s so hard to generate this kind of buzz especially when we’re being bombarded with other designs from other graphic designers.

Second, I have some experience with being prosecuted because of a design I made and it’s always bittersweet, especially when it’s intentionally offensive. I created this one poster with the “stop smoking” theme; my idea is to show people what smoking actually does to your lungs and wallet. My poster was so offensive that it actually made people turn away but the message stuck – If you smoke one pack a day you’re spending over $2,000 a year making your lungs look like ‘this.’ It’s intentionally offensive and it makes people think; mission accomplished. I had to debate or argue why my poster works and should be kept as-is. I created a debate and a controversy and hopefully moved some people to take action. Which leads me to…

Three, I thought Utah was still a part of the United States where The Second Amendment still holds some value. One of the aspects of living in a society like this is that people have the right to publish whatever they want just short of child pornography or instructions on how to make a bomb that will kill the president or any other public official. I’m allowed to write anything so long as it doesn’t cross the line into deformation. I’m allowed to buy anything that’s on the open market, period.

If I want to buy smut or pornography and someone wants to sell me smut or pornography, that’s my business. If someone wants to pay me to make smut or pornography, that’s my business too. The only institutions that can or should get in my way is my marriage (the supreme law in this house in that jurisdiction) The State and Federal Government (to make sure that neither children or animals are being exploited) and my religion. Period.

What this woman, Judy Cox has done is prevented me from going to that specific store and buy something that I might want. By buying up all these shirts because she thinks they are indecent she has prevented me or others from that area from exercising their First Amendment Rights. She has the right to be offended, but she doesn’t have the right to censor other people.

It doesn’t matter if she thinks they’re offensive, I’m even a little disturbed by how young women are becoming more sexualized, simply because you don’t like something doesn’t mean you get to ban it. What this incident has done is given the anti-religion crowd an precedent; since you think this is offensive, I find your Christ paraphernalia offensive and I want that removed from my sight!

Judy Cox may have started something she can’t finish. There are going to be a lot of people who are going to raise the bar and hope that there’s another woman out there just like her who will buy up all of their offensive material. What she’s also done is she’s caused everyone to take a moment and look at Pac*Sun’s products and I’ll bet their sales have grown significantly over the past week. Pardon the pun, but I bet they think this controversy is a Godsend.

What do you think? Write a comment below or send me a tweet…



People: “Utah Mother Buys Out Store's 'Pornographic' Shirts over Teen Concerns,” By ANDREA BILLUPS 02/19/2014

WHEN THE SHIRT HITS THE FAN: Woman buys all 'indecent' shirts to remove them from store.


  1. I think I need to point out that her concern was that the shirts were on a display that anyone could see while walking by, children included, they would not remove the display. That was her concern, as I think it should be for anyone else, especially parents. Would you want your thirteen year old son walking by something like that? I know I would not. She has the right to proceed as she did.

  2. Hey, Rex;
    There’s a lot of things “out there” that offends me and I would like to end – perfect example are websites, signs and posters that use excessive negative contrast text – lengthy white paragraph text on a black background. Maybe that’s a bad example cause it’s not as offensive as pseudo-pornography. I’m offended by tabloid newspapers with their misleading or outright lying headlines.

    I could be offended by a lot of things out in the open for "children to see" but I chose not to. I pick my battles better than I did in the past.

    Before I wrote this rant I looked up all the images that I could find on those T-Shirts and there’s nothing more risqué than what’s on display at every “Victoria Secret” and “Fredrick’s Of Hollywood’ store. I have no idea if there are outlets for those two chains at that specific mall but I’m sure that if I “looked” hard enough I could material just as offensive.

    Keeping in mind also that “Offensive” is a relative term.

    Why go after just that ONE store? What if I went to the news stand and bought up every tabloid at the local grocery stores to prevent anyone else from reading them, what’s that called? Is that not a form of censorship?

    Something like that happened at a local college where the college president who was angered and embarrassed by a story in one specific issue and to keep anyone from reading it he had his staff members confiscate all the issues they could find. How is that any different than what she did – granted those were free news papers and she bought all those T-Shirts.

    Who gets to decide what’s suitable and what’s not? If she’s right than who’s to say that the people who are offended by The Ten Commandments carved in stone in court rooms are wrong?

    You have the right to be offended but you don’t have the right to silence other people.

    1. Hi Eric,

      I see where you are coming from, I too am pretty taciturn and get irked by what some would deem little things, like mispronounced vowels. Of course I can't outlaw the mispronunciation of vowels. As you know, I too have done graphic design work as a profession. My other perspective is that I happen to live in the county that the woman is located in. She is correct that the shirts probably do not meet the standards as outlined by the local authorities. In fact, a local Victoria's Secret was required to take down a display that was deemed as not appropriate for the general passers by. So, the local people have spoken as far as their preferences for what is allowed as far as a public display. I think she has a good chance that the local government will back her up. Anyway, I just look at it more in the vein of why would you want to take the family on a waltz through the mall and there is Miley Cyrus doing a performance on a kiosk. Perhaps that is a weird analogy. Yet, I think there is a place to draw a line, some will draw it along different zones, and each of course are free and welcome to do so as an individual or as a community. Have a good weekend.

      Rex B.

  3. Rex - That's so well said, I'm going to let you have the last word.