Hallmark Doesn’t Support The Troops

I usually like Maxine. The sarcastic, crabby comic is usually pretty funny. She’s a product of the card company Hallmark, a company I’ve never had a problem with. And I’ve never noticed any anti-American, anti-military statements or actions from her or from Hallmark — until now.

I shopped at Hallmark quite a bit while Matt was deployed. When I found out we were having a boy, I wanted to send him a themed care package with a ton of “Its A Boy!” stuff to surprise him. Hallmark was where I got a lot of those things.

Had I known they would be so willing to disrespect the troops and their families, I would never have spent a cent there.

Monday was Memorial Day. Maxine — and thus Hallmark — chose to commemorate the holiday by running the following comic on Maxine’s official Facebook page:

This insulted and offended multiple military family members, including a Gold Star wife. They decided to express their feelings about the cartoon, and were summarily attacked, insulted, and degraded by the commenters there. After a good amount of time, Hallmark finally issued a weak apology. But it was far from over. Maxine’s fans continued to berate the family members, myself included, who had the gall to express our opinion: that we found the cartoon offensive. Yes, I know, most of America does indeed see Memorial Day as just another day off of work. That doesn’t mean any of us like it, or that we want a cartoon character furthering that sentiment. And this is where it got interesting.

The moderator for the Maxine page got to work. No, whoever it was did not delete the rude, insulting, vile comments directed towards military families. Instead, they were deleting our comments. Comments calling us “inbred hicks” and “retards” were allowed to stand. We were told that we didn’t support the military, that we were complainers and whiners just pretending to be offended, we were told to shut up and go away. We were insulted and attacked for merely expressing an opinion. And Hallmark didn’t delete a single of their comments. (Susan Katz Keating has just a few examples.) This action made it clear: their words said one thing but their actions said another, and that was that Hallmark does NOT support our troops and the military.

Now, this wouldn’t have been as big of a controversy as it has turned into if it wasn’t for this. Imagine being a Gold Star wife and having people insult you for merely saying that you were offended — and that Hallmark decided to side with them. Hallmark could have chosen to delete the comments attacking her and other military family members, but instead, they sided with them and allowed the abuse to continue. Here’s an example of the type of comment that Hallmark endorses:

“Yet I find it very disturbing that closed minded Inbred Hicks have nothing better to do than to trash a Cartoon Figure its a waste of Energy, really people get a grip on reality . Maybe the Bible Belt Inbred’s need to do something for their country than sit behind a computer & complain get a life seriously.”

That is simply inexcusable in my book. They censored dissenting comments while allowing insulting personal attacks on military families to continue. I can’t see how a company that supports the military would ever let that happen. Susan points out how the situation got worse and worse, and how Hallmark has even visited her website — but still has done nothing.

Stalwart troop supporter Carrie Costantini jumped into the discussion and tried to educate the Maxine fans on why the cartoon was offensive. Carrie even gave a tutorial on what Memorial Day actually is, and what it means to people who have lost a loved one in combat. The Maxine fans hooted ever louder. Their responses showed them to be people who care very deeply about when their new Keepsake Ornament catalogs will arrive, but not at all about telling a Gold Star mother to “get a life.”

Despite the fact that “Maxine” frequently responds to people who leave comments on the page, Hallmark allowed the dialog to continue unmonitored. The Maxine Brigade grew increasingly snide, belittling, and hostile. Anyone who objected to the cartoon was cast as a whiner, or stupid, and worthy of extreme mockery.

This extended “Hallmark Moment” continued much of the day.

I posted a couple neutral questions, myself, asking Hallmark to respond to the complaints. “Maxine” remained silent. I posted again. Still nothing. Finally, I questioned whether Hallmark would have been willing to use a different holiday in place of Memorial Day in the cartoon. What if, for example, the Maxine character joked about Martin Luther King Day. Within minutes, Hallmark removed my questions. Then they surfed into the blog and read a couple posts.

Are we all overreacting? I’d imagine that people without skin in the game might say yes. But as a Marine wife, this is insulting to me. I refuse to shop at Hallmark from now on and hope that everyone who reads this does the same. I sent Hallmark the following message expressing my displeasure — I have yet to receive a response. I encourage everyone reading this to also send a message of their own. I sincerely hope that word gets out about this and that Hallmark comes around.

Our troops and their families have sacrificed too much to be disrespected this way.

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to inform you that you have lost a Hallmark customer. On Memorial Day, you published an offensive cartoon from your character, Maxine. The text was as follows:

“Lots of people don’t have to work today. Which is why my motto is “Live every day like it’s Memorial Day!”

This was offensive to many people, including myself and some Gold Star families. I know many of the people who commented on Maxine’s Facebook page to express their disappointment. All of them are supportive of the military beyond just complaining on a Facebook page, as your fans would have you believe. It’s bad enough that most Americans view Memorial Day as a day only for a three-day weekend and barbecues. It’s even worse that Hallmark would further this idea.
After many of us posted that the cartoon offended us, Maxine fans responded extremely crudely. They attacked us, including a Gold Star mother. The page moderator did nothing. We were insulted, told to shut up and go away, and still the moderator did nothing. After a while, Hallmark issued a rather weak apology. However, they still took a stand against the military. Comments from military families who were offended were deleted. Comments from fans attacking military families, though, were let stand. Some of these included being called “inbred hicks”, “retards”, and much more. Why were comments from military families — respectful comments — deleted while vile, crude insulting comments directed at said military comments let stand? Clearly, the company apology was not sincere. Actions speak louder than words, and your actions clearly show that not only does Hallmark NOT support our troops and respect the sacrifices of the fallen, they actively side with those who disrespect and insult our troops and their families. This situation could have been handled differently, but Hallmark made a choice and took a stand. You chose which comments to delete and which comments to keep, and the comments you chose were vile, rabid, insulting, and disrespectful. Apparently those are the customers you value — not our troops and their families who are sacrificing for your fans to have the right to insult us.

My husband is a United States Marine. He recently returned home from his third combat deployment, this time to Afghanistan. We learned that I was pregnant shortly before he left. Throughout the deployment, I sent him several items from our local Hallmark store, including multiple “Its A Boy!” items that I put in his care package to let him know we were having a boy. If I had known that Hallmark had such little respect for our military and those who made the ultimate sacrifice, I never would have spent my money there. And now, I will never spend my money there again. We lost five Marines and a corpsman on this deployment. Memorial Day is not just a day off of work for me. Their sacrifice should be honored, and if Hallmark cannot do that, then they do not deserve the patronage of military families.

Casandra Chesser

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