Paul McClintock / blog

I sell shirts through redbubble and pretend to be an artist. This blog sometimes contains my own stuff, but mostly examples of art, illustrations and films that inspire me.
Contact me here.

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I got some hate mail today

*Update 18 June, 2011* - The shirt has now been taken down by Redbubble, likely based on a complaint made by this person (or who knows… someone else?). I’ll be discussing this directly with Redbubble, and hope to have it replaced.*

Okay, so it’s not really hate mail, more like criticism mail. Someone sent me an email to let me know how much they disapprove of one of my t-shirts. This is not something I expect to find when I open my inbox. I usually expect to wade through the numerous bits of spam that has slipped through the filter, and occasional reminder that I didn’t sell any t-shirts this week… but today, there it was, with the innocuous subject line:

"Question/Comment about a design of yours…."
Hmmm, okay. Non committal, vaguely reminiscent of those occasional 419 emails that slip past my spam filter. I chose to click, ever ready to report as spam if the contents mentioned African princes or enlarged penises.

The offending shirt... OH THE HORROR!

Hi Paul,
Oh, hi! It knows my name… but that doesn’t prove anything. It’s in my email after all.

I really like lots of your work, and saw some of it on Redbubble.
Thanks. But I’m still not convinced - this isn’t the first time a yahoo email address has mentioned redbubble without saying anything specific enough to rule out spam. In fact, it’s pretty much always spam.
It seems a strange introduction in hindsight… especially as the positive attitude in this one line preamble seems to be nowhere to be found in the rest of the email.

One particular piece caught my eye, and I needed to ask you about it. The piece is called “The things inside my head.”  Two characters on it—one says “Kill all humans.”  The other says, “rape their corpses.”
Oh wow, that’s a real verifiable reference to a specific item that actually exists! This email isn’t spam after all!
Yeah, I like that one two. It’s a pretty old gag, juxtaposing cute cartoon creatures and having them say or do something completely at odds with their cuteness.

Murder & rape are not funny.
Oh… I, uh… do you mean objectively speaking?
I suspect I’m in for some constructive criticism.

Your piece reminds me of that Etsy card that promoted rape.
Oh right that one card! I totally understand what you’re talking about because I’ve never seen it nor have any clue about the context in which this apparent “promotion” of rape took place, and since you’ve neglected to link it, I guess I’ll just have to trust that you didn’t completely misrepresent whatever actually was on “that Etsy card”. Good point, though.

I don’t like to censor art/etc…
I know right…but someone’s gotta do it! I hate being forced to censor things against my will, but sometimes things just aren’t funny, and have to be censored.

But put yourself in a rape victim’s shoes.
How do you suppose I get access to these shoes? (too far?? Let me know!)

How do you think a rape victim would feel seeing that on a t-shirt?
I wouldn’t want to assume I know what anyone is thinking. But if we’ll make the unwarranted leap to assume we know what someone is thinking, and that this person is offended by the shirt, then I’ll arbitrarily state that they’ll probably be about as disgusted as I feel whenever I listen to the self righteous mob of self appointed outrage police who insist that everyone conform to their personal idea of “good taste”.
And just to be nitpicky, in the context of the shirt’s fictional world, the hypothetical rape victim is in fact already dead, along with (if you follow the shirt’s narrative) the entire human race.
But I take your point that everything is offensive and should be censored.

on a CHILD’S shirt?
I’m not aware of any children wearing that shirt, although I would support their decision to do so. Having once been a child, I can assure you I enjoyed wearing silly shirts that said silly things… in fact, I consider myself to still be a child at heart, and I still wear silly shirts that say silly things.
But that doesn’t really matter because it’s not meant to be a child’s shirt. Of course, I don’t discriminate against children who happen to have a sick sense of humour… most of them don’t have credit cards in order to buy shirts online, but if their parents wish to purchase a shirt for them - that would be their decision. I wouldn’t want to prevent them from being able to make that choice. To be honest, I would not expect to ever sell a child’s size of this design - unless a little person (you know… an adult with dwarfism of some kind) wanted to purchase a shirt that didn’t flow past their feet… and I would hate to deny little people the opportunity to purchase clothing that is available to other adults of conventional stature. That would be unnecessarily cruel.

Your design, whether intentional or not, makes light of a horrific atrocity.
The design is in fact entirely unintentional, and any impression of a cohesive vision should be considered coincidental. In fact, it is only by sheer fluke that any of the lines join up at all.

It’s really very ignorant & cruel. And, you’re profiting on that.
This is true, I am in fact profiting off ignorance and cruelty. The act of applying coloured lines  to cotton is incredibly ignorant, and selling the resulting apparel is horribly cruel. And I am just about ready to retire on my ill gotten gains. Since you’ve showed so much interest, I’ll let you in on just how much profit I have raked in off this instance of ignorant cruelty:
Fifty six dollars and seventeen cents (Australian).
Whoaaaa! I’m a billionaire! A cruel, ignorant billionaire!

It’s sickening to see a design like that on an adult/kid’s shirt, when adults & kids have been brutalized, murdered and raped. Don’t you read the news?  This is happening all the time, everywhere….
What everywhere? All the time? Is it happening right now, in my house? If so, how do I have the time to draw my stupid scribbles that offend thee so much? Surely I’m being brutalized and murdered right now… how is it that I’m responding to this email? How is it that you were able to fight off the hoards long enough to warn me about my ignorant cruelty?

If you’re just trying to shock people, perhaps you forgot that this is happening all the time, perpetrated by REAL people.
Here is where I’ll try to be serious for a second.
I would like to address this idea of yours that one must never joke about something that might offend someone, or to make light of anything that occurs in real life in which people have suffered or continue to suffer.
Have you ever laughed at anything that might offend someone else? If not, then by all means - go ahead and point your finger at me and cry foul all you like. It doesn’t bother me you don’t like my shirt. I don’t particularly care if you don’t find it funny. It’s your prerogative to object to my shirt because you find it offensive. You are perfectly welcome to feel the outrage that you feel, and yes I even welcome this email being that you felt strongly enough to tap your thoughts out on your computer and click the “send” button on yahoo mail.
I will not attempt to convince you that you are wrong for feeling the way you do, nor will I expect that you will ever change your mind.
But if you’ve ever laughed at any joke at the expense of someone else, then it would be grand if you’d take a moment to step back and reflect on your own ignorance and cruelty, and perhaps ponder the possibility that some people in the world might disagree with your puritanical view of the world, in which sometimes things are so horrible that the only thing you can do is laugh. The world is full of righteous dipsticks who think they are justified in wagging their finger at people for violating their particular idea of acceptable humour, and I would like to suggest that you are one of these people. Of course, this characterization is entirely based on this one instance of finger wagging. I wouldn’t want to assume that you spend all your time emailing random internet people just to tell them off for drawing a picture.

Your design seems to promote that. And it’s not cool.
My design does what?
Do you seriously mean to suggest that my drawing promotes the “brutalization, murder and rape of adults & kids” in real life? Are you intentionally being dense, or do you really have no ability to distinguish between cartoonish humour and a sincere promotion of violence, murder and post mortem intercourse?

Maybe you should put a tagline on it, such as “don’t try this at home, or anywhere else in the world.
Yeah, because people are that stupid, and that would prevent atrocities unknown.

I’m disappointed that you would design/promote/profit on something like this.   It’s really not cool at all. 
I am truly ashamed that I have disappointed you, random internet person. I only wish to be cool, and to be accepted by whoever you are. I will now commit ritual suicide in order to restore honour to my family.

It’s not a personal opinion. It’s an ethical realization.
I don’t think those words mean what you think they mean.

This hurts people, people who have already been victimized by trauma.   I hope you think about that the next time you make a design like this.   And, if you think i’m a small, insignificant minority, you’re sadly mistaken.   There are millions of rape victims worldwide.  Millions of murder victims.  Victims of war, serial killers, rapists, etc… who suffer incalculable pain, with PTSD, physical trauma, addictions, neurological illnesses, disabilities, etc…   It could be anyone you know.  Just open your eyes.

—-*****  [Name withheld because I’m not a total jerk]


I promise I will take your advice to heart. My next shirt will be dedicated to you, my dear fan. I will yield to the might force of the Self Appointed Righteous Outrage Police (SAROP):


So there you go. The incredibly popular “everything is offensive and should be stopped” meme has finally reached my backwater corner of the internet. A corner that even I haven’t visited in something like six months.
Maybe you, dear reader (what the fuck… I know I don’t have any readers… I don’t write anything) are aware of a recent article in a real life newspaper about some print on demand company (Redbubble) that is selling pro Hitler merchendise.
This is of course, utter horseshit. The merchandise in question was not pro Hitler at all… it was making fun of Hitler, and of hipsters. Yes it was a type of humour that is likely to offend some people, but you’d have to be a fucking moron to think it was in any way promoting Hitler on any level. (Any retort that mentions that Neo Nazis have been known to wear HH clothing just goes to back up my point… fucking moron’s who think it promotes Hitler may in fact turn out to be neo Nazis. Shock, horror.)
I’ve even read “articles” (scare quotes!) that suggested that Redbubble was promoting Hitler by virtue of the fact that they allowed HH to use the site. I’m not sure if the people responsible for this idea were deliberately misunderstanding the way a print of demand site works (hint: unmoderated for the most part, and certainly there is no link between the fact that redbubble hasn’t deleted your account and the assertion that therefore Redbubble approves of and agrees with everything you upload.) in order to smear Redbubble for some reason, or if they really were that stupid. But morons with websites are everywhere (look at me!).
No doubt the article in the Herald Sun was spurred by members of SAROP repeatedly contacting every vaguely newsy outlet they could find until some desperate for anything writer picked up on it. Free scandal!
It turns out that I happen to use Redbubble to sell t-shirts (approximately one every 3 months) and have done so for years; since before this group moved in and took over the place declaring anything they didn’t like as unacceptable and demanding it all be removed from the internet.
They’ve been complaining for a long time now: about nudity; swears; violence; religion (if it isn’t fawning enough), and a number of other normal parts of my morning. But because I’ve not been prominent enough, and because most of my shirts are childish doodles of elephants and monsters I’ve managed to avoid attracting negative attention from these people. Another thing that probably allowed me to fly under the radar recently is that I haven’t really paid any attention to the community at redbubble for months, going on years. I got sick of the unbearable level of idiocy that seems to have permeated the place recently and I just stopped coming back.
Coincidentally (duh… completely unrelated), exactly three emails higher in my inbox I found this from the Redbubble team: “Redbubble Policy Change”. I can’t be bothered reading it, but I’d guess it has something to do with children’s shirts being switched off by default.
The lesson is: Scream and cry as loudly as you can, and eventually reasonable people will get sick of your whining and will offer to accommodate your idiot point of view. I guess? I don’t know… I’m not good with this kind of thing… maybe it’s:
You are not allowed to laugh at anything.