Jesus and Mo Checks

23


Discussion by: Julianne

I wanted atheist checks, so I got permission from the Author of
Jesus and Mo to have some printed with the bottom halves of 4 strips.
After much go-around with artisticchecks.com, finally a manager admitted
to me that they were not going to print the checks for me because they
found them offensive. When I said “Offensive to whom?”, she said she wouldn’t discuss it with me. I cancelled my order. I had chosen relatively mild strips so as not to offend.
I spent 8 hours going through the archives and photoshopping them so they’d fit (a nightmare!) and you could read the writing, plus the jesusandmo.net logo at the bottom.Anyway, please don’t buy from this company. If anyone knows where I can
get some atheist checks made, please let me know.  Thanks!

23 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, Were your files properly ready for production? Eight hours photoshopping seems excessive. I’m not sure if you are a designer for a living, but you’d be surprised how many “professionals” lack when it comes to production and getting artwork ready. If they were not, the go-around could be for this reason and the offensive remark could have been made just because they didn’t feel like hand holding someone in order to train them in pre-press production. If the files were technically perfect the first submission, then you have an issue. Of course it could be a combination of both problems.

    There are plenty of check companies. Let us know which one finally takes your design.

  2. In reply to #4 by Nodhimmi:

    Checks/cheques- how quaint

    Ohhh, thank you. I was wondering what ‘atheist checks’ meant. I’ve been scratching my head.

    Yeah, I wouldn’t be too hard on this company, Julianne. They’re just looking to make a buck in a difficult economy. It’s unfair to call on people to boycott them just because they don’t want to get involved in something which could prove to be politically problematic. I’m afraid I’m with the manager on this one, although she did owe you the courtesy of a proper explanation.

    I dislike immensely this internet-age thing of calling for a boycott on a company when it creates a bit of inconvenience or does something which slightly irks you. Boycotts are an effective form of protest but lose their validity when used for trivial stuff like this.

  3. In reply to #5 by Katy Cordeth:

    It’s unfair to call on people to boycott them just because they don’t want to get involved in something which could prove to be politically problematic.

    How exactly would it be “politically problematic” to print personalized checks for a single customer? No one was asking this company to take position publicly or to endorse anything, or even to associate their brand with J&M. They aren’t publishers or advertisers, just a custom printing house speciallizing in personalized checks (er…cheques.) Juliane merely asked them to provide printing services as they would to any other customer. It’s not as if they’d be publically connected to Julianne’s checks or that anyone would even know they’d printed them. When is the last time you took note of the company that had printed the design on a check?

    This is a clear case of discrimination. I’ll definitely warn anyone I know away from artisticchecks.com

  4. In reply to #6 by BanJoIvie:

    How exactly would it be “politically problematic” to print personalized checks for a single customer? No one was asking this company to take position publicly or to endorse anything, or even to associate their brand with J&M. They aren’t publishers or advertisers, just a custom printing house speciallizing in personalized checks (er…cheques.) Juliane merely asked them to provide printing services as they would to any other customer. It’s not as if they’d be publically connected to Julianne’s checks or that anyone would even know they’d printed them. When is the last time you took note of the company that had printed the design on a check?

    You don’t see how it could cause problems for a company to print cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed? I don’t mean to be rude, but do you live on Jupiter?
    I never notice the name of the company that makes the cheques, but I’m aware it’s there if I need to find it.

    You correctly say that no one was asking Artistchecks to take a stance and their printing of Julianne’s order wouldn’t have amounted to taking any sort of political position. But what if someone had entered the store asking for cheques with swastikas on them, or “kill the fags” in bold lettering?

    The argument that a company is absolved of any accountability because it’s only reprinting something somebody else has come up with doesn’t really fly. Most bookstores don’t carry copies of Mein Kampf or The Turner Diaries; nor would any reputable publisher take on the task of printing such books, because they’re aware that this makes them a link in the chain of distribution.

    I’m not saying that the Jesus and Mo cartoons are racist or anti-Muslim you understand; only that they come with political baggage, and most businesses are well-advised to avoid becoming embroiled in politics if they want to stay in business. Artistchecks has already lost your patronage, and I never eat at Chick-fil-A when I’m in the US. What further proof do you need that politics and business make poor bedfellows?

    This is a clear case of discrimination. I’ll definitely warn anyone I know away from artisticchecks.com

    I’m not sure how this could be considered an act of discrimination. What kind of discrimination is it? Who is it anti? I don’t think Julianne should necessarily be considered a modern day Rosa Parks just because Artistchecks wouldn’t print her cheques (er…checks).

  5. You correctly say that no one was asking Artistchecks to take a stance and their printing of Julianne’s order wouldn’t have amounted to taking any sort of political position. But what if someone had entered the store asking for cheques with swastikas on them, or “kill the fags” in bold lettering?

    Or what if a flower shop refused to send flowers to an atheist girl who protested a prayer banner in the school gymnasium?

    I am glad to say that my local public library system, noted as one of the top systems in the country carries copies of Mein Kampf and Turner Diaries. They do not censor. You name it; they’ve got it or will get it.

  6. In reply to #8 by QuestioningKat:

    Or what if a flower shop refused to send flowers to an atheist girl who protested a prayer banner in the school gymnasium?

    That would be an example of a business taking a political stance, which isn’t what Artistchecks did. The manager Julianne dealt with was trying not to become embroiled in any sort of controversy. Polar opposites, Kat.

    I am glad to say that my local public library system, noted as one of the top systems in the country carries copies of Mein Kampf and Turner Diaries. They do not censor. You name it; they’ve got it or will get it.

    And the bookstores in your county? Does any of them stock these books? Google it and get back to me.

  7. I purchased Mein Kampf from a bookstore in WA. You can also pick it up at Barnes & Noble.

    In reply to #9 by Katy Cordeth:

    And the bookstores in your county? Does any of them stock these books? Google it and get back to me.

  8. In reply to #10 by Sean_W:

    I purchased Mein Kampf from a bookstore in WA. You can also pick it up at Barnes & Noble.

    Yeah, I also found that it was available in my area, which is a bummer because I still think my argument is valid. I’m going to double down, in an attempt to claw back some of my dignity, and suggest that you might find it more difficult to procure a copy of The Turner Diaries.

  9. I’m sure that’s possible. I’ve never even heard it mentioned outside studying terrorism. Your experience may be different. The same is obviously not true for Mein Kampf.

    I don’t think the gist of what you were saying depends on these being hard to come by.

    In reply to #11 by Katy Cordeth:

    In reply to #10 by Sean_W:

    I purchased Mein Kampf from a bookstore in WA. You can also pick it up at Barnes & Noble.

    Yeah, I also found that it was available in my area, which is a bummer because I still think my argument is valid. I’m going to double down, in an attempt to claw back some of my dignity, and suggest that you might find it more difficult to procure a copy of The Turner Diaries.

  10. In reply to #9 by Katy Cordeth:

    That would be an example of a business taking a political stance, which isn’t what Artistchecks did. The manager Julianne dealt with was trying not to become embroiled in any sort of controversy. Polar opposites, Kat.

    I’m sorry but the florist example and the check printing example are nearly identical…refusing service to someone because you disagree with their view is the same in both cases. You are backing yourself into a corner trying to parse a difference. Refusing to print the checks is every bit as political an act as printing them would have been. In this case I would argue that chosing to refuse service for a particular customer is inherently a political stance – moreso even than simply completing a routine transaction.

    And your examples from publishing are simply off point. Printing a picture for personal use is inherently different from printing it for general distribution. No, I do not live on Jupiter, I simply recognize that there is a vast difference between printing vanity checks and printing a periodical or a book.

  11. And the bookstores in your county? Does any of them stock these books? ….Google it and get back to me.
    … and suggest that you might find it more difficult to procure a copy of The Turner Diaries.

    Nope, Just checked, it’s at Barnes & Noble. I could also get it at a local community college bookstore. I don’t see why you think buying it is more unique. I could just drive to my local library! I must also agree with BanJovie on Artisticchecks.

  12. Hi, QK. I spent 4 hours going through all the archives at J & M (such torture), and I worked about 4 hours on the photoshopping, mostly because you don’t know until you actually upload the image if it will fit in all the right places. Then you have to adjust it and re-upload it. It was hard to make sure important words weren’t covered by silly things like my bank account number and the amount of the check (cheque). They looked really nice. As for offensive, I’ll let you be the judge. I chose the following four strips, just the bottom two frames:

    1. The one where one of them answers that when they asked him why god didn’t cure amputees, he answered “Nothing”. He says, “I didn’t have a leg to stand on.”
    2. One of them asked the barmaid what the universe would look like if there was no god and she said “This”.
    3. The one where it says that as long as there are questions, there will be people who pretend to know the answers and we have to respect that (and not laugh).
    4. The one where science refuses to make stuff up and that’s what give religion its edge.

    As J & M fans know, I could have found some much more offensive ones. Maybe I should have chosen the one where people race to see who can be the first to be offended.
    I will be sure to let everyone know if I can get J & M ones made.

    The company was within its rights to refuse, although a little more forthrightly and politely would have been appreciated. They kept telling me it was because the images were copyrighted, and I kept telling them I had the author’s blessing. They didn’t want to tell me their real reason. I don’t care if you boycott the company or not. If they are making checks you like, go ahead and give them your business. I just wanted people to be able to make an informed decision. I don’t think they feared repercussions ~ Danish cartoons. I think they are very religious.

  13. In reply to #14 by BanJoIvie:

    I’m sorry but the florist example and the check printing example are nearly identical…refusing service to someone because you disagree with their view is the same in both cases. You are backing yourself into a corner trying to parse a difference. Refusing to print the checks is every bit as political an act as printing them would have been. In this case I would argue that chosing to refuse service for a particular customer is inherently a political stance – moreso even than simply completing a routine transaction.

    Well then I guess we’re going to have to agree to disagree, because I still think there’s a difference. I don’t see how refusing service to a customer because you’re scared your business may be affected could be considered a political stance. A few months ago we had a discussion here about a sign company in the US which had taken down atheist billboards after its staff was threatened with bodily violence. I thought the company was doing the right thing, as I said at the time; others didn’t.

    And your examples from publishing are simply off point. Printing a picture for personal use is inherently different from printing it for general distribution. No, I do not live on Jupiter, I simply recognize that there is a vast difference between printing vanity checks and printing a periodical or a book.

    This chequebook Julianne wanted wasn’t presumably just going to be taken home and stuck at the back of a drawer never to see the light of day again; the cheques may not have been for general distribution, but they were going to be seen by a number of people. The personal use argument doesn’t apply.

    What if, as I said earlier, a customer requested swastikas or homophobic slogans on his cheques, even if he insisted they were for his own personal use and wouldn’t be seen by anyone but him? Would the store manager be within her rights to refuse custom? And by doing so, would she be taking a political stance? I don’t know. I could argue that she was just following the rule of common decency and trying to keep her job, but I wouldn’t take that to the bank.

    Finally, you say that Artisticchecks’ refusal to print Julianne’s chequebook (I’m sorry, Julianne, it’s rude to write about someone in the third person when you know there’s a good chance she’ll read what you’ve put. Hello!) was a political act. Well, don’t political acts tend to be a bit more… public? If you oppose a hospital closure, you don’t make a placard and then stick it in your garage; you go on a march with it, hopefully with other people. You dust off your megaphone, you hold vigils and write letters. You get your message out there. That’s part of the definition of a political act. Have any articles appeared in the local press about this story? Is there anything on Artisticchecks’ website about how one of their managers bravely took a stand by refusing service to an Islamophobic customer? Until there is, you’re going to have a hard time convincing me that this was anything other than someone erring on the side of caution.

    In reply to #15 by QuestioningKat:

    Nope, Just checked, it’s at Barnes & Noble. I could also get it at a local community college bookstore. I don’t see why you think buying it is more unique. I could just drive to my local library! I must also agree with BanJovie on Artisticchecks.

    I was clearly wrong about the availability of Mein Kampf and The Turner Diaries; I hold my hands up about that. I thought it less likely that you would be able to buy these books because bookstores are accountable to shareholders and face competition from other outlets so don’t always stock books which could precipitate any sort of public backlash (I guess MK and TTD are no longer considered controversial). Libraries are not subject to the same market forces so tend to have carte blanche with what they keep on their shelves.

  14. I think the point is that it has become politicised? By the company not being willing to print what you want, you have called for a boycott of the company, that is a political stance.

    This is not a newspaper or a political journal this is a small company just trying to earn a crust everyday and then get back to their families and enjoy life.

    We all know what the repercussions can be when cartoon images of Mo are published, so why should they put themselves in a position that this may happen just to satisfy your desires. And it is naive to think that one could not find out who printed the cheques.

    I do not see the desire for personal cheques, but if I did, I would use this company now, just based on the fact you went over the top because you did not get your own way.

  15. In reply to #18 by sbooder:

    I think the point is that it has become politicised? By the company not being willing to print what you want, you have called for a boycott of the company, that is a political stance.

    This is not a newspaper or a political journal this is a small company just trying to earn a crust everyday and then get back to their families and enjoy life.

    We all know what the repercussions can be when cartoon images of Mo are published, so why should they put themselves in a position that this may happen just to satisfy your desires. And it is naive to think that one could not find out who printed the cheques.

    I do not see the desire for personal cheques, but if I did, I would use this company now, just based on the fact you went over the top because you did not get your own way.

    1-I particularly enjoy your compelling imagery of a poor embattled company just trying to “earn a crust.” Poetic, heartwarming…emotionally manipulative. Also, their profit margins are kind of irrelevant to whether or not their practices are objectionable. Can we attempt some objective distance here? It hardly helps to gild our portrayals of each side with details drawn from our sympathies rather than from the few simple known facts.

    2-No one has claimed that “one could not find out who printed the checks.” Neither you nor I know whether that information would be printed on the checks in question. I have looked everywhere on my own checkbook and there is no printer’s mark of any kind, but I did not use a vanity house, and I have no idea what is standard practice in the field. So, for the sake of argument, let’s grant a scenario in which ArtisticChecks.com prominently stamps their logo on every check. So what? I’m still unmoved by the “fear of reprisals” defense here.

    My point was never that the printer would be safely anonymous, it is that there is a fundamental difference between printing something and disseminating it, and the political heat in the various real world cases has been felt by disseminaters (or by the creators, not the middlemen). This is what I mean by distinguishing between publishing and printing.

    Do any of us even know if Jyllands-Posten owns their own printing facilities or contracts through a third party? Such outsourcing is very common in the publishing industry. Did the issue ever even arise with all the millions of people that got up in arms over the affair?

    I admit it is a pure guess, but I’d be willing to bet that most billboard and bus ad companies do not self-print the ads they sell to fill their space, but it is the ad companies and the ad purchasers that have been caught in PR wars, not the printers.

    Printing is a specialty service that is regularly hired out by content creators or content providers. The heat goes to the artist that drew the pictures (anonymous in the J&M case) or to the name at the top of the sheet – the one who is spreading the pictures around. In this case, that would be Julliane – whose full name (and complete address by the way) would be printed at the top of each check she passes. If there is any risk, the target is vastly more likely to be Julliane rather than the small “struggling” little company that filled her order (actually Julianne, I hope you have fully considered that fact. Not that I would discourage you in any way, I love J&M.)

    3-I would not go so far as to say there is NO risk to a company for printing a Muhammed check, such things are unpredictable. But even if the risk were substantially greater than I judge it to be here, I’d still be critical of a company that refused business on the basis of such a risk. I’d judge capitulation to such fear to be unwarranted and cowardly except in the most explicit cases of specific physical threat. I place great store in “freedom of the press” and consider the owners of printing equipment who offer their services publicly to have certain responsibilities arising therefrom.

    If the real reason for refusing to print these checks was fear of reprisals – especially vaguely possible, imagined reprisals – rather than objection to the content, I’d actually find that LESS acceptable than simply saying, “I don’t agree with it, I won’t print it.” Premptive self-censorship for fear of violent minorities is a grave action and should be taken only with a great deal of thought. It means voluntarily relinquishing freedoms to a bully. It is like negotiating with terrorists, and every capitulation weakens the freedom of expression. that loss is real and should be given weight in the consideration of risks.

    4-None of that matters anyway, since no one at artristic checks cited fears of Muslim backlash as a reason for refusing this contract. Posters here seeking to defend the company are the ones who have raised this issue. According to Julliane ArtisticChecks.com first tried to refuse due to copyright concerns then changed their story to “offense” when that reason was snatched away.

    You are simply imafining a motive of which you could approve, then ascribing it to the company. Other motives are just as likely if not more. Personally, if I were going to speculate wildly as you have done, I’d say its much more likely that someone there is a born-again type who objects to the irreverent depiction of Jesus and to the general lack of respect for religion displayed by J&M. It’s equally possible that the whole thing is motivated by a vague sense of “PC” and a misguided desire to avoid theoretical “offense” without any real thought as to why or whether a particular image actually is or should be considered offensive.

    In any case I’d say the odds are just about even that nobody at ArtisticChecks.com is even aware of the Danish cartoon scandal or Salman Rushdie or any billboard flaps. Such stories recieve a lot of attention at RD.net, but I assure you that the average American pays them little heed.

    5-”Please don’t buy from this company” on a discussion board specifically for RD fans is hardly a “call for a boycott” and calling it “over the top” to complain about a bad consumer experience is pretty rich.

    Lets just grant the company every right to refuse service as they see fit, which you may be surprised to know, I freely do! A consumer, in turn, has every right to voice their dissatisfaction with a company. Exercising the second right is no more inherently “political” than the first, especially if a company has provided poor customer service.

    It is drastic enough to simply refuse a customer, but to give shifting reasons for that refusal and then to refuse to discuss the matter? That is poor customer relations. A little internet griping for such shoddy treatment is hardly beyond the pale. It is silly to paint one side as innocently trying to earn a living while the other is “over the top” and “politicising.” It’s not like Julliane is asking us to draw up plackards and picket the place, or contact our Chambers of Commerce here. No one is buying ad space to denounce them or starting petition drives or letter writing campaigns.

    I’d say that your public declaration that you’d gladly throw your hypothetical business to the company is just as “political” as the OP, whichin turn was just as “political” as chosing to deny an advertised service because of an “offensive” image. More power to all parties! All commerce is political, and it works best when every party uses their share of political clout to advance their own interests.

  16. In reply to #17 by Katy Cordeth:

    Well then I guess we’re going to have to agree to disagree, because I still think there’s a difference. I don’t see how refusing service to a customer because you’re scared your business may be affected could be considered a political stance.

    I guess we will have to disagree, unless you can more clearly articulate the difference between the “political” florist and the assumedly apolitical printing company.

    To begin with, I don’t see where anyone at ArtisticChecks.com ever said they were “scared their business may be affected.” I see where you have assumed this but I’m not sure where you got it. I DO however, remember that at least one of the florists cited this exact reason for refusing to deliver flowers to Jessica Ahlquist. According to the Providence Journal:

    Updated January 19, 2012, 2:42

    WARWICK FLORIST WON’T DELIVER: The Warwick florist whose business was asked to deliver flowers to Jessica Ahlquist said Thursday he would not do so because of what he calls “negative publicity.”

    “No matter what I do, I get punched in the face,” said Daryal Romano, the owner of Greenwood Flower & Garden. Romano said he decided to nix the delivery to Ahlquist after customers who heard about the delivery threatened to stop doing business with him.

    Does that mean you agree with Mr. Romano’s decision? Did he “take a political stance” or was his hand forced by the “politicising” of other parties? You haven’t explicitly said so, but your previous tone suggests that you would have disagreed with the florist but not with the printing house. Is that a fair assessment of what you’ve said so far? If so, does the quote from Mr. Romano change your opinion? I’m really asking, I don’t know what your answer would be, because honestly I don’t see the distinction you are trying to draw.

    Honestly, I’m not really interested in who is and who is not “being political.” I find it something of an artificial distinction as just about everything has political ramifications.You are the one who raised the issue of politics because the florist was – in your opinion – “taking a political stance.” Yet in both cases the action taken by the company was exactly the same. A customer approached the company and requested their services as advertised. The company refused the service. From what I can glean, you are implying that the motivation for refusal is key to your opinion of the company’s actions. Yet you are simply making up the motivation in the case of the company you wish to defend.

    In both cases the company found the order to entail some level of “offense.” You seem to be drawing a distinction between a company refusing service because they take offense to an order rather than fearing that others might take offense and subsequently blame them. Is that right? If so, I’m afraid that is a distinction without a difference.

    If I owned a lunch counter in the Jim Crow south and I decided to refuse service to black customers would I only be “taking a political stance” if I was personally a racist? Is a “whites only” business apolitical if the policy exists only to avoid alienating white customers? Personally, I find the policy deeply “political” no matter the motive.

    If what you’re really getting at is that one case involved offense to Christians while the other involved offense to Muslims then I guess we really will have to agree to disagree. (I freely admit you never said this. I merely point out that this is one possible inferrence from what you have said.)

    A few months ago we had a discussion here about a sign company in the US which had taken down atheist billboards after its staff was threatened with bodily violence. I thought the company was doing the right thing, as I said at the time; others didn’t.

    Yes, threat of bodily violence is serious, and any company should take such threats to their staff seriously. I question whether the best response to such threats is to simply give in to the demands of a bully, especially before other options are tried. Who knows how diligently the sign company tried to defend their client’s rights before caving to threats, but in the case of the OP there wasn’t even an actual threat of any kind, merely an imagined, possible threat which no one at ArtisticChecks.com even raised. In fact, raising the billboard case only serves to throw ArtisticChecks.com into a worse light. At least the billboard company initially accepted the conract, and made an effort to honor it!

    And again, I have to point out that there is a difference between printing an image and publishing it. Many sellers of ad space contract out their printing work. Imagine that the billboard company in your example had done so. If they had taken the job from the atheist group then approached their printer with the ad only to be refused because of fears, would you defend that printer? Did the people making the threats against the billboard company ask them who did their printing?

    This chequebook Julianne wanted wasn’t presumably just going to be taken home and stuck at the back of a drawer never to see the light of day again; the cheques may not have been for general distribution, but they were going to be seen by a number of people. The personal use argument doesn’t apply.

    The fact that others would inevitably see the checks has no bearing on my point at all. The point is that Julianne would be the one distributing them; Julianne would be the one whose name and address would appear in bold letters at the top of every single check. They are her personal checks and she claims responsibility for them. Anyone likely to take offense at Julianne’s checks would be overwhelmingly more likely to get angry at Julianne than at whatever little dot com printed up her checks. Fear of backlash would be a weak tea excuse for a printer (if indeed the printer had ever made this excuse, which they didn’t) who was not publishing the final product.

    There is a difference between printing and publishing. See my comment 19.

    What if, as I said earlier, a customer requested swastikas or homophobic slogans on his cheques, even if he insisted they were for his own personal use and wouldn’t be seen by anyone but him? Would the store manager be within her rights to refuse custom?

    Again, I never raised the “never seen by anybody else” argument so I’ll let that pass. Neither did I deny that ArtisticChecks.com has every “right” to refuse service to Julianne. Even if I didn’t already respect the right of business owners to refuse service (which I do with certain narrowly drawn exceptions) I believe that the First Amendment would specifically grant this right to printers under a literal “freedom of the press.” Who said anything about rights? They had the right, that doesn’t make them “right” and it certainly doesn’t take away Julianne’s right to express her dissatisfaction nor my right to criticize. Why don’t we just agree that everybody has the right to do everything they’ve done and get back to the discussion.

    So let’s take the homophobia and swastica examples. Since you are raising them a second time, you must find them persuasive. First of all, I’m hoping you’ll take a moment to reflect that you are comparing atheist-friendly content to homophobic or nazi propoganda in order to make your point.That is exactly the kind of camparison I DO dind offensive. I expect to have to fight such comparisons out in the world, but I get discouraged seeing them from natural allies. I assume you don’t intend to imply that the content is actually comparably offensive, but unless that were your point there is no other logical reason to even mention it. Because some things actually are offensive for reasons I agree with does not mean that I have to just accept it when people take offense at things I consider harmless or even praiseworthy.

    Personally, I don’t think I’m even slightly inconsistent to condemn a company for refusing to print J&M even if I’d probably praise them for refusing to print prostest signs for the Westboro Baptists or banners for Neo-Nazis.

    I do not agree that J&M is offensive, and I chose to publicly argue against this viewpoint when the opportunity arises. I think that oversensitivity to religious “offense” provides cover for a lot of the harmful impacts of religion today. Businesses who take the position that criticizing religion is “offensive” and who seek to suppress such criticism have every right to do so, but I think they are in the wrong. I consider them my political foes. If there is no cost for taking bigoted stances in society or in commerce, nothing will ever change, and I don’t accept the status quo when it comes to stigmatizing atheism. Why should we simply cede the point when someone implies that atheism is “offensive?” I prefer to agitate for progress and demand respect. I do agree that swasticas and gay slurs are offensive. I’d probably praise a company who took a stand against those things. I’d publicly defend them.

    And by doing so, would she be taking a political stance? I don’t know. I could argue that she was just following the rule of common decency and trying to keep her job, but I wouldn’t take that to the bank.

    I’ve already been the rounds on “political stance” but …absolutely such a manager would be taking a political stance! If it was over swasticas, it would be a stance I’d support; over J&M it would earn my condemnation. Either way it’s political. It’s all political. The minute you make it about “decency” or “offense” you are commiting to the political realm. The manager might also be “just trying to keep her job” but I don’t see the two as mutually excusive. My main point would be that “common decency” is not set in stone. Public opinion shifts. I think we should all be working to shift it towards greater acceptance of atheism and less knee jerk protection of religious viewpoints.

    Finally, you say that Artisticchecks’ refusal to print Julianne’s chequebook (I’m sorry, Julianne, it’s rude to write about someone in the third person when you know there’s a good chance she’ll read what you’ve put. Hello!)

    Hello from me too! And ditto the apology. I hope it’s clear that I’m speaking for myself and not on your behalf.

    …was a political act. Well, don’t political acts tend to be a bit more… public?

    No. Political does not have to mean public. An awful lot of deeply political things happen behind closed doors. If you mean “public” when you say “political” then maybe you should just say “public.”

    If you oppose a hospital closure, you don’t make a placard and then stick it in your garage; you go on a march with it, hopefully with other people. You dust off your megaphone, you hold vigils and write letters. You get your message out there. That’s part of the definition of a political act.

    No. I do not accept that as part of the definition of “political.” Your example is of a political act that also happens to be public. I counter with a closed door board meeting in which a group of bankers draw lines on map representing the areas in which they will only give mortgage loans to white borrowers. See? Secret, but very political.

    Have any articles appeared in the local press about this story? Is there anything on Artisticchecks’ website about how one of their managers bravely took a stand by refusing service to an Islamophobic customer?

    Not to my knowledge. If those things happened I’d form an opinion. I don’t think either of those developements is necessary to politicize this transaction, merely to publicize it.

    Until there is, you’re going to have a hard time convincing me that this was anything other than someone erring on the side of caution.

    It may very well be “someone erring on the side of caution,” or at least it could be spun that way, I simply find that an insufficient excuse. Erring on the side of caution is not apolitical.

    I would merely close by saying you seem to have formed an opinion that ArtisticChecks.com acted with good intent without actually having any information to that effect. Personally I don’t care how good their intentions were, it’s their actions I criticize, but you seem to place importance on motives here…and then you proceed to simply assume that the motives good. You also draw parallels to other cases without really working through what is similar and what is different, making me wonder if you are squeezing this case into a preformed argument. I’m always wary of phrases like “you’ll have a hard time convincing me” since I wonder if the conclusion has been drawn before the facts. I’m not claiming immunity to the same condition mind you, it’s human nature, but there is something about your assertions which seem a little cart-before-the-horse to me. Just sayin’

    Peace. Really.

  17. I must say that I find this boycott demand a little troubling.

    In a free society, everyone has the right to refuse business based on personal convictions. We simply move on to the next business in line and hope for success there.

    It may be that the owners were Christian or Muslim or feared reprisals if they printed their information on the checks.

    The same could be said of threatening to burn a cross on their lawn for failing to print KKK cheques at the local black owned printing house.

    Does any business have the right to refuse service to people? Provided they are not encroaching on Human Rights, I would say so. Their loss of your custom is already the penalty they pay.

    Question: If you owned a cheque printing company, as an atheist, would you refuse to print cheques that said “All who refuse to cower before the Lord, thy God, shall burn for eternity in Hell.”?

  18. In reply to #21 by TSM:

    I must say that I find this boycott demand a little troubling.

    Nobody demanded anything. I see a request. I even see the word “please.”

    In a free society, everyone has the right to refuse business based on personal convictions. We simply move on to the next business in line and hope for success there.

    In a free society everyone also has the right to express consumer dissatisfaction and to organize for action in any way they please. “Free society” is not a one-way street. Nobody ever questioned ArtisticChecks.com’s “rights.” Having the “right” to do something does not protect you from the reactions of others to your exercise of those rights, provided everyone stays within the bounds of the law. I’m really surprised how often people raise the completely irrelevant subject of “rights” in discussions like this. A company’s right to refuse service DOES NOT abrogate their customers’ rights to free speech! So lets just leave “rights” out of this, shall we? This is fast becoming a pet peeve of mine. Maybe we need to name a new fallacy? The “rights” make right fallacy?

    It may be that the owners were Christian or Muslim or feared reprisals if they printed their information on the checks.

    It may be. But this company didn’t offer any of those excuses, so stop imagining reasons you would accept on their behalf. It “may be” that terrorists were holding them hostage and told them that if they accepted one more order they would blow up a school, but we can’t know that. All we do know is that – according to Jullianne – they first refused her order based on copyright, then switched to calling the images “offensive.” They also refused to discuss the matter further which I consider just plain bad customer service.

    Anyway, none of the “excuses” you mention would change my opinion of this case with the given facts. Therefore I choose to heed Julianne’s request to withhold my custom from this company. If you disagree with her, then ignore her request. Simple! and nobody’s “rights” have been trodden on!

    The same could be said of threatening to burn a cross on their lawn for failing to print KKK cheques at the local black owned printing house.

    I’m sorry, maybe I’m not understanding you. Did you just say that Julianne’s “please don’t buy from this company” is equivalent to threatening to burn a cross on the company’s lawn? Ridiculous. If you really can’t see the many clear differences let me get you started. One of those two actions is legal. Didn’t we just hear something from you about “free society” and “rights”?

    Also, you just got through attempting to justify the company’s decision with an appeal to “feared reprisals.” If that were the case, then Julliane would already be in competition for this company’s services against threats of violence! I’d say she show’s remarkable restraint and civility! So it’s okay for a company to accommodate the wishes of imagined, potentially violent bullies who hypothetically threaten “reprisals” (except nobody actually did in this case) but companies shouldn’t have to worry about the horrible spectre of actually mistreated customers sharing their experience online? Um…sure.

    Does any business have the right to refuse service to people? Provided they are not encroaching on Human Rights, I would say so.

    Well, we agree on this point. Now how is it relevant to the case at hand? How did anybody encroach on the “right” you evoke here? How was it threatened? Why do you mention it…again?

    By the way, I think a case could be made that Freedom of Religion – including the freedom to reject, criticize and satirize it – is a “human right.” In that case picking and chosing customers based upon their views about religion could be considered a violation. Not sure I’d press this argument, but I’m not sold against it either.

    Their loss of your custom is already the penalty they pay.

    Who says? It’s a free society, remember? That’s the whole point of a market. Everybody acts in thier own interests, individually and collectively. Collective action can be effective when there is an inherrent imbalance in economic power. Who are you to limit the consumer to the power of the single purse when companies can freely take advantage of economies of scale? As long as Julianne isn’t compelling anyone to agree with her or follow her advice, it’s emminently reasonable for her to seek legal ways to ampliphy the cost of eschewing her business.

    Look, there are plenty of stupid boycotts demanded for reasons with which I disagree, but I do not imply therefore that the entire principle of a boycott is unjust. I criticize the boycotting entity or the rationale behind the call directly. I publically argue against their positions. Or I go out of my way to give the targeted company my business and write them to express my support.

    Question: If you owned a cheque printing company, as an atheist, would you refuse to print cheques that said “All who refuse to cower before the Lord, thy God, shall burn for eternity in Hell.”?

    I probably would not refuse such an order if they were paying customers, but let’s assume that there was something truly vile about the hypothetical order or that I was feeling idealistic and I decided to tell this hypothetical customer to shove off. I sure as hell wouldn’t be surprised to see my company thrashed on tightassgodbotherers.net. I’d fully expect to receive angry letters from the customer and even from others that support their view. I’d know I was not only turning away one print job but many other potential print jobs. I’d accept that cost as part of the fallout of my decision. If enough hell-threateners got their knickers up and threatened my bottom line, I might question whether my commitment to anti-theism or my commitment to freedom of the press was more important. If I just couldn’t bend on my “no hell threats” policy, I might look for other ways to understand or appeal to that constituency, or seek to expand my atheist customer base to compensate. I might also publicly defend my position and by articulating it I might even sway the minds of a few critics.

    Whatever I ultimately decided, all of the soul searching within myself, my company and the wider community would probably be a good thing. That’s the point of a free society.

  19. The owner of the company is well within their rights to not print something if they don’t want to. You can be offended and irked but that doesn’t make you right. Ever think that it might have been offensive to her or a work colleague?

    It must have been close to her for her to lose out on the custom.

Leave a Reply