You can’t walk within five blocks of Wrigley Field without seeing them: the homespun tee shirt vendors. Sometimes funny, sometimes offensive, and always in your way.
Unfortunately, the worst of the shirts remain – an example photo, at right from the Huffington Post – which sadly means, there’s a market for them.
As the Cubs played their first home game of the 2010 season, fans gathered in and around the ballpark to stock up on merchandise. Unfortunately, the racist and homophobic t-shirts sold outside of Wrigley Field have not gone anywhere.
In 2008, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on the hottest selling item from a stand that sells unlicensed Cubs-related merchandise across the street from the ballpark: a Kosuke Fukudome shirt that the Japanese outfielder did not find funny. The shirt featured a Cubs cartoon bear face with slanted eyes, wearing oversized Harry Caray-style glasses and was accompanied by the words ”Horry Kow,” scrawled in cartoonish ”Japanese” script. Fukudome’s name and number were on the back.
The article sparked outrage over the offensive shirts sold around Wrigley Field, and as WBEZ pointed out Monday–the Fukudome shirts may have been discontinued and replaced with a “toned down” version, but the racist and homophobic shirts have not gone anywhere.
“We have free speech,” Wrigleyville street vendor Joe Sienkiewicz told WBEZ. “This is not the only avenue that people sell that type of shirt. You can go anywhere in the city of Chicago and you’ll find negative T-shirts, funny T-shirts…Some call them racist T-shirts, but it depends on how you look at it. But if they’re going to kick us out for that, then they better get rid of them all over the city of Chicago, all over the state of Illinois.” Huffington Post.
Ah, free speech. Good old misunderstood, and misapplied free speech.
Back-up argument? Er, well, everyone else is doing it, so it’s ok if I do it, too.
But in the end, I’m not going to lambaste these guys. They have discovered a niche in the tee shirt market where their product sells. Good for them. I am, however, going to lambaste the tee shirt buyers. Are you kidding me? Green Gay Fudge Packers? What is this, 1985? The kind of 1985 where everyone is perpetually in middle school?
In what universe is it acceptable to wear that shirt? I really can’t wrap my head around someone who sees that shirt and thinks: “That is precisely the sentiment that I have been seeking to share but haven’t found the words to express. Finally, I can wear it loud and proud on my chest!”
For my part, might I suggest a humorous take on these kind of insensitive shirts: