PacSun Pulls Upside Down Flag T-Shirt After Outcry

PacSun Pulls Upside Down Flag T-Shirt After Outcry

These clothing retailers never seem to learn. Just recently, Under Armour got castigated for using imagery similar to the Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima on a basketball T-shirt. And now, Pacific Sunwear, popularly known as PacSun, is having to offer a similar apology after getting caught over Memorial Day weekend displaying and selling a T-shirt that shows an upside down American flag. This is the Facebook post that started it all:

As one can imagine, an image like that on Memorial Day weekend spread like wildfire. And what can’t be seen well in the original picture is the anarchist symbol on the sleeve of the shirt.

And people let PacSun have it.

PacSun announced late Monday afternoon that it was pulling the T-shirt.
So, pairing an upside down American flag with a symbol for the anarchist movement is considered “artistic and creative expression” according to PacSun. Good to know.

What’s also good to know is what the upside down flag actually means, according to the United States flag code.

(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

As someone so aptly put it on a mutual friend’s Facebook post, displaying the flag upside down is the equivalent of calling 911. It was meant to be an emergency signal, not a political statement. We often mock, and sometimes prosecute, people for misusing 911. While I’m not suggesting prosecuting people for displaying an upside down flag, I do think people should be shamed and mocked when they try to co-opt it for their own political protest. And sticking an anarchist symbol on the sleeve just makes this even worse, because it’s obvious that PacSun was trying to pander to the hipster protester crowd. Well, fine. Now that they’ve been shamed into pulling this off their shelves and their website, I hope those hipster protesters have enough money to keep spending at PacSun. And hopefully every person who vowed not to shop there again really does mean it. The only way to stop this stupidity is for the marketplace to do its work, and let people’s opinions be seen not on Twitter or Facebook, but in PacSun’s bottom line.

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