Antiwar T-shirts win protection

The Arizona daily Sun is reporting that a federal judge on Wednesday permanently blocked state and local officials from prosecuting a Flagstaff man who produces and sells antiwar T-shirts with the names of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.

According to the report, U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake said the shirts are “core political speech fully protected by the First Amendment.” Wake acknowledged that Dan Frazier sells the shirts. But he said the fact that an item is sold rather than given away does not strip it of its constitutional protections.

At the heart of this case are Frazier’s T-shirts, which have the words “Bush Lied” on one side and “They Died” on the other, all superimposed over the names of more than 4,000 soldiers killed in the Iraq war. This all stemming from actions of Sen. Jim Waring, R-Phoenix, who pushed through a law making it a crime to use the names, portraits or pictures of dead soldiers to market any items without first obtaining consent of next of kin. Waring acknowledged the statute, which allows an offender to be jailed for up to six months, was aimed specifically at Frazier. (Source)

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5 responses to “Antiwar T-shirts win protection

  • debbie gray

    This is interesting on a few different levels.
    1) People will do anything to make money. I don’t know what they sell for, maybe he isn’t making a big profit, just covering his costs. Yet, I think it is his right to do it. As an anti-war protestor this is might be great marketing…as the parents or relatives of the soldiers it could be very painful or a good way for people to remember these soldiers.

    2)The U.S. Constitution does still work.
    Freedom of Speech is important even if we don’t agree or want to hear about an issue. This goes for anyone from the President to you and me. No one should be stopped from declaring their views. I guess the way you go about doing it seems to be the issue or lately who you declare in front of (the president).

    Protests at the DNC will be interesting to watch this week.

  • SDL

    I think that Dan Frazier is doing a wonderful thing by expressing what so many of us Amercian’s are feeling. I did some research and located his website. On the website he states that $1.00 of ever shirt ordered goes to a charity to support the fallen soldiers families. I don’t understand why it should be a crime to use the names of the fallen without consent of their nex of kin, and if fact i think it is ridiculous. Those names should be recognized for the sacrafice that was made whether it is to protest the war or to approve of the war.
    What the above article doesn’t say is that there is another shirt available that has “Support our remaning troops…” on the front and “Bring them home alive” on the back. The names that are in the background are still the names of the fallen, but still a great way to support those who make the choice to fight for our freedom.
    here is the website for the shirts http://www.carryabigsticker.com/bush_lied_shirt.htm#charity

  • kyle hudson

    Personally this sounds disgusting. Someone using dead soldiers names to further their bank account and their personal war feelings. The families of these soldiers may not be against the war, their sons may not have been against the war. These soldiers may have been serving their country in full belief that they were doing the right thing, and now Frazier is using them to further a anti-war cause they would not agree with. These soldiers are no longer here to ask their opinion on the war, so it should be the families right to deny usage of their loved ones name. Free speech is one thing, but to use someone else’s name as if they would support what you doing is wrong. I hope the family in Tennessee suing Frazier for all the families win their cival suit, and set a precedent for all people who try to use something like this in the future. Being a anti-war person myself i can see the positive effect of the t-shirts to further the cause, but i also feel that deep disturbing feeling of what it is saying. I would hope Frazier continues to make his t-shirts but only if he gets permission to use the names from the families.

  • NZ

    This article goes to show that antiwar protesting is (a) still alive and doing well and (b) still very controversial. I believe in our First Amendment rights, but I also believe we should exercise these rights in an appropriate and tactful manner. I don’t believe Mr. Frazier is being tactful and respectful to the families of the 4,000 soldiers listed on the back of this T-shirt. Yes, it can be seen as support or a way to recognize those who have sacrificed for the rights and freedom of fellow Americans, but ultimately Mr. Frazier’s message is commercializing these men and women!

    It seems from reading this article the Judge although trying to uphold our First Amendment rights, may agree with the message Mr. Frazier is trying to promote. It seems very clear that Judge Wake believes “commercial activities do not have the same broad free speech protecting as those done without financial consideration,” but yet he is fully aware of Mr. Frazier using his T-shirts, with the soldier’s names on them as advertisement on his website, but comments “that doesn’t mean Frazier was engaged in commercial activity.” Why else would one advertise a T-shirt on a website for a cost? If you were just trying to protest wouldn’t you want to “sell” your message by distributing it to as many people as possible, not by profiting from it? I don’t know as I agree with the Judge that his website is like a “street-side table used to disseminate anit-war and political messages.”

    Whether we agree with the protest Mr. Frazier is fighting, the manner in which he is choosing to do it is not the most tactful. I doubt he has obtained the permission of the next of kin of every name listed on the T-shirt. Furthermore, his website does say that “one dollar from the sale of each shirt is being donated to charitable organizations that assist families of fallen U.S. troops,” which is commendable, but why not give all your proceeds to these organizations if your true motive is anti-war protesting?

    I think the Judge’s decision has opened up a whole new door on the limits of anti-war protesting that is going to have a huge impact on the thousands of families who have lost a loved one to past, present and future wars. I am very interested to see how the civil lawsuit filed by Robin and Michael Read plays out!

  • alias5

    Innocent Iraqi civilians also died/ are dying in numbers that far outweigh the number of soldiers we’ve lost, in this war that was based on falsified information. I think Frazier should list the names of those fallen individuals as well because by not doing so basically reaffirms the belief that a solidiers life is far more important than an innocent civilians life. And Frazier should also make certain that 100% of his profits go to a charity organization that helps those who have suffered injuries during the war, not just a buck per shirt. Otherwise he is just like all the other war profiteers profiteering from this war. I can even recommend a charity for him, Emergency USA. This charity is headed by an Italian surgeon who performs life saving operations on victims of war, in war zones all over the world and he does it all for FREE. He tirelessy works to actually help people who have been injured in wars, and works to prevent wars. He is a true anti-war activist, Frazier is not.
    http://www.emergencyusa.org/ I also think it is sick that the families in turn are trying to profit from this guy’s misguided actions. 40 BILLION dollars!!! Come on, they need to have some respect for their own fallen.

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