Comment of the Day: “The Provocative T-Shirt Problem”

Rick Jones, whose excellent blog posts on ethics, academia, politics and life can be read here, at Curmudgeon Central, again delivers the Comment of the Day, on my post about the gay couple asked to hide an innocuous T-shirt message while visiting Dollywood.

“It strikes me that attempting to draw clear lines of demarcation in terms of either content or location is inherently fraught with peril. The best determinant may indeed be the Golden Rule. But that inevitably touches on intent. The purpose of a “marriage is so gay” t-shirt isn’t to “get in the face of” opponents of gay marriage; it’s to make a mildly humorous point about an issue without being strident.

“The guy who wore the “I’m a Muslim. Don’t Panic” t-shirt to the Ground Zero celebration after the killing of Osama bin Laden—not terribly clever, but not at all offensive, either.

I wouldn’t be offended by a t-shirt backing a political candidate I’d never support (I might have an indication of whether to engage in conversation with this person as we wait in the queue, but that’s another matter); I would be by a t-shirt defaming that same candidate: comparing him to Hitler, for example. Yes, intent matters. Continue reading

The Provocative T-Shirt Problem

Dress codes+grievance-mongers+freedom to be rude...oh, it's hopeless.

An ethical dilemma occurs when a clear ethical principle clashes with a strong non-ethical consideration. An ethical conflict occurs when multiple ethical principles suggest diametrically opposed results. The question of what is ethical conduct when it comes to wearing apparel bearing controversial messages has the elements of both a dilemma and a conflict.

                                                                                Welcome to Dollywood!

A same-sex couple visiting Dollywood Splash Country with friends and their children was told by a park gatekeeper that one of the women had to wear her T-shirt inside-out because its message—“Marriage is so gay”— “might be objectionable” to some visitors at the “family-friendly” park.

   <Sigh.> Continue reading