It’s an American right to be able to wear your opinions on your clothing. But where do we draw the line when one person’s opinionated clothing can potentially cause fear in others?
Romwe, an online clothing and accessory retailer, is selling a controversial tote bag that is adding fuel to societal fear. The slogan on the bag reads, “This bag contains a gun, a bomb, a very large knife and loads of drugs.” Most likely aimed at customers who look at current events through a satirical lens, the tote’s bluntness makes light of the valid anxiety people feel about violence and terrorism.
In a December 2015 New York Times poll, Americans were more fearful of terrorism in 2015 than in the weeks following September 11th, 2001. And with extremist attacks, both abroad and in America, adding up year by year, that fear is building. We’ve become more aware of potential threats when attending large, populated events. We now know to keep an eye out on public transit for anyone or anything that causes suspicion.
It’s a sad truth, and certainly not something to be made fun of.
The slogan is also extremely insensitive to those affected by violence and drugs. According to States United to Prevent Gun Violence, more than 30,000 Americans are killed by gun violence every year. Another 70,000 Americans suffer gun-related injuries. And Everytown for Gun Safety reports that since 2013, there have been 218 school shootings in America. There have already been a number of shootings in 2017 alone.
Overdose related deaths are also on the rise. Heroin-related deaths alone skyrocketed to 14,000 in 2015 compared to 2,000 in 2002. Gun control and “The War on Drugs” are huge, fought-over issues in America right now. Both are costing too many lives and neither should be poked fun at on the side of a satirical tote bag.
Yes, wearing your opinions on your clothing is an American right. But instead of inflicting more fear or showing insensitivity towards the issues affecting our communities, opt for a positive message instead.
Don’t joke about having a gun in your bag because you’re trying to be edgy and satirical. Sign a petition to change your state’s gun ownership laws. Rather than joking about possessing a bomb, figure out a way to help your fellow humans who have been affected by terrorism. In other words: Spread love — not fear — with your opinionated clothing. It’s not that hard to do.
And lastly, remember the old saying: “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.”