Redbubble: Prioritizing Nazis Over PoC Since…Always?
A little while back — about a month, slightly more — I made a painting. It was an anguished-process painting, filled with layers of paint and agony over color choice. Nonetheless, when I finished it, I was happy with it. So I posted it. And people really wanted stuff with my painting on it. That was cool.
So I put my painting on Redbubble, and uploaded it to a myriad of cool products, from miniskirts to mugs, phone cases to t-shirts, and a ton more.
Now is a good time to show you the painting in question, because this is where things are about to get real fun. Here it is, in all its watercolored, Moleskine glory.
Pretty cool, right? With all the discussion surrounding Richard Spencer getting punched in the face, it was pretty topical when it came out. But in all honesty, I made the piece initially as a self-portrait. I’m a Romani Jew, and as you can imagine, my family was hit pretty damn hard by the Holocaust and Nazism as a whole. In fact, it was pretty much all wiped out, save one direct relative. As such, I don’t take too kindly to Nazism in any form. Can you blame me?
As I made the painting, I was in the midst of considering the rise of the “Alt-Right”, which is basically a new Neo-Nazi party in America. There have been many threads of discourse on this issue and whether or not violence is an acceptable response to people who want to mass murder people like me (just like they did in WWII), but I’m really not here to get into that. Bottom line: I am not a violent person. I don’t hit people. I never have. But I did watch that clip of Richard Spencer getting decked in the face a number of times when it came out. Take from that what you will.
Some 30+ product sales on Redbubble later, I received the following email:
Thanks for being a part of Redbubble. We are writing to you regarding the following works which we have today de-published as they fall outside our guidelines on appropriate content.
Please take the time to familiarize yourself with our Community Guidelines and our User Agreement to ensure that you do not upload any work that may be considered inappropriate according to these guidelines. We also ask that you review your current portfolio and remove any works that may fall outside our content guidelines. In addition, we must remind you that subsequent reports regarding inappropriate content can result in an account suspension or closure.
Redbubble Objections Team
With that, my painting and all associated products were swiftly removed without a trace from Redbubble. (You can click the link and see for yourself.) Now, I imagine the trigger for all this is that I posted the painting on my blog, where it picked up some great traction which, in turn, exposed it to a whiny Neo-Nazi sympathizer, who then flagged the painting to Redbubble. (And to think they call people like me a snowflake? Yeah, okay.)
So where’s the problem?
The problem is that, within 5 seconds of searching on Redbubble, you can find a plethora of products that directly promote and support Neo-Nazis like Spencer, Milo Yiannopolous, and the more general Alt-Right platform. In fact, here are a few examples in case you don’t believe me (or want to search the scary depths for yourself):
Well, anyway. You get my point. Redbubble is happy enough to vend products that are openly supportive of Neo-Nazis, degrade the poor, glorify a hipster Hitler, and use a blatantly vile misogynist slur. But art by a Romani-Jewish woman decrying a culture in which Neo-Nazis threaten every space, online and in real life, is immediately deemed “unsuitable” and “inappropriate”.
Whatever happened to free speech? Or does that only go one way — toward those hell-bent on destroying entire races of people?
I’m not sure what constitutes inappropriate vs. appropriate anymore, but if Redbubble is any indication of the common culture, it seems that those deemed inappropriate are almost wholly on the side of the oppressed — not the ones perpetuating genocide and racist rhetoric. I can’t say that I’m terribly surprised, given that sites like Tumblr and Facebook have come under fire in recent times for allowing hate groups to function on their sites without restriction, while banning users for even a sliver of a nipple on a fine art photograph.
I’m disappointed. I’m angry. And I’m sick and tired of living in a society that claims it defends freedom of speech “to the death”, but fails to mention that said freedom is contingent on supporting fascist Nazi causes, and excludes those of us that constantly live in fear of them.
You screwed up, Redbubble. You really did.