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Etsy, This Greeting Card Sends the Wrong Message

Etsy, This Greeting Card Sends the Wrong Message

My husband Jim and I cannot imagine life without our son Charlie, who is 13 1/2 years old and on the moderate to severe end of the autism spectrum.

I do have to say, when Charlie was diagnosed with autism just around his second birthday in 1999, we felt we were looking into a black hole of hopelessness. If I had known we would have to go through some of things we have, I would have told you, I can’t, I can’t. Life with Charlie is not easy, but every single moment is worth it, and is a privilege.

So I was not happy—ok, outraged—to see a greeting card that out and out makes fun of individuals with Down Syndrome and developmental disabilities on Etsy, the ecommerce site for buying and selling handmade products from clothes to furniture to cookies.
The card is listed as item #60053498 by a seller, Derrick Clark, whose username is ‘youstupidb[****].’ It contains the phrase ‘CONGRATULATIONS / Your kid has Down Syndrome’; a drawing of a teenager/adult with the facial characteristics associated with Down Syndrome; and a speech bubble saying ‘I can count to potato!’ A review of some of the seller’s other items (none have yet sold and the seller, who joined Etsy in late October of this year, has not yet sold anything) suggests that the intent of youstupidb[****]‘s products is to offend.

I have written to Etsy and asked them to consider taking down item #60053498. I learned about the card from my friend Erika who wrote to the Etsy support teams and was told that ‘they will take a close look at the matter.’

I truly hope they do. 
Should Etsy remove the card, I hope that the company will take the time to think about what sorts of items, with what sorts of messages, are sold on the site. Even if no one buys item #60053498, by allowing the seller to list such a card, Etsy has provided a showcase for many all around the world to view a hateful and discriminatory message.

Due to Charlie’s needs, it’s basically impossible to do any shopping (beyond groceries) in ‘bricks and mortar’ sort of stores.  I’ve much appreciated Etsy and its community of makers and artists. But encountering an item such as item #60053498 has given me many second thoughts about the site.

It took years for Charlie to be able to say ‘potato.’ Without years of education and therapy starting when he was two years old, he may not even have been able to talk at all. 

Yes, I ‘heart handmade,’ but there’s a boy who’s very close to my heart, and I can’t—-we all can’t—-stand to see him and individuals like him be the source of someone’s fun, and profit. 

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185 comments

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2:28PM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

Just another product I won't be buying. By that, I mean the entire line of products. One can use their right to free speech all they want. I will NEVER buy ANYTHING that starts out with those two words, neither will I say something like that to a parent who is struggling enough. Etsy, Shame on you

11:43AM PST on Jan 15, 2011

http://www.etsy.com/storque/etsy-news/policy-change-prohibiting-items-and-listings-that-disparage--11599/

Well enough of us hit that Report button and it worked!!

Etsy has addressed the problem!!!!!!!!!!!!

Everyone who responded is a Hero! Thank You!!!

7:42AM PST on Jan 14, 2011

I'm so disappointed in Etsy. They have little to no policy about such things. Ebay isn't much better but at least they have a policy in place even if it's almost impossible to find in the Agreement.
Login in at Etsy and go to the seller's page (use the item # in the article) and click the Report option on the right side of the page. If they enough protests they may wake the hell up!

1:21AM PST on Jan 9, 2011

bravo. now the shop has 73 sales. really smart. it was on national television.

it's offensive and design quality is poor and it got nationwide attention.

this thing would have languished and died if it hadn't been for this article.

1:33AM PST on Jan 8, 2011

Tonight Jane Velez Mitchell did a huge discussion on this tonight and takes Etsy to task for posting them. Etsy chose not to respond to the show when they reached out. Shame on you Etsy.
I'm so glad she did this piece. HLN is the show and hopefully the media will run with this. This is very bad press for Etsy.

5:07PM PST on Jan 7, 2011

Kristina, I didn't see your post until today. I just saw the story on Jane Velez-Mitchell. I have shopped at Etsy and so has my daughter. I reported the store and sent my written complaint.
There is no place in an adult world for the types of insults and idiocy on the cards in question. The insults were to all women, as well. I can't believe the stupid asses who think that it's a question of the 1st Amendment. It just shows how very little some people know about our government and country. It has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment. Any enterprise has the right to sell or not sell any item they deem fit. Evidently Etsy thinks these are ok. And that is fine. I, however, will never buy anything from Etsy again. I can only hope that individuals with stores on Etsy stop selling their goods there. Thank you for your post. I sent you a green star!

1:20PM PST on Jan 7, 2011

I went to the site you so obviously wanted me to go to.
Yes, this is a VERY adult site. Yes, most of the cards are horribly offensive. That is the point! No, your feelings are not taken into consideration as are no one else's. I don't think this person was trying to be personal, just create VERY personal cards for other people to purchase. My advice is to not purchase them.
Perhaps you overlooked the card that stated, "People with Down's Syndrome are awesome!
But their parents are ass*#@&)!"

4:20PM PST on Jan 1, 2011

maybe for future reference, if someone wants to post something like this and give free advertisement to a shop like that (you being upset is understandable), please, at least don't provide direct links to the shop multiple times.

considering this article is still coming up near the top on google news search on etsy. you're unwittingly giving it a world of exposure. i would also say there's a high probability a high proportion of hits to that shop come directly from this article and exposure from this article actually has gotten it sales.

yes, it's upsetting, and the shop is rude and offensive, but please do not do people like this a favor.

9:15AM PST on Dec 30, 2010

Lots of folks seem to think this is a "free speech" issue. Free speech in the Constitution refers to the government, not private enterprise. The government cannot regulate speech but a private enterprise can. For instance, based on the sensitivity of some of these people who would allow such speech in private enterprise would probably find nothing wrong with calling women and the B word to co-workers using their logic. If I call a co-worker the N word or B word, what do you think would happen? I'd be fired. There is no free speech in private companies or non-government entities.

It is amazing that people would condone the corporate acceptance of such harsh and hate filled commerce. Truly mind blowing. We live in a very sick society.

7:35PM PST on Dec 29, 2010

With every right comes a responsibility. These cards are perfectly legal, but terribly irresponsible.

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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