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Walmart Thinks Twice About Offering 'Rope. Tree. Journalist.' Shirt

Just because people will buy it, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to sell it. We can apply that pearl of wisdom to all sorts of products, and one retail giant has just received a reminder of that fact.

Walmart is the retailer in question, as the company has received some backlash over an offering in its online marketplace. As The Hill shares, the company has removed the offering from a third-party seller after closer examination.

The item is a t-shirt that expresses a rather inflammatory sentiment in regards to those that report the news.

“Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required," the shirt proclaims.

The Radio Television Digital News Association was none too pleased about the fact that Walmart was offering the shirt for sale, and the group's executive director, Dan Shelley, would drop a letter to voice concerns to the company.

“It is our belief that at the least, T-Shirts or any other items bearing such words simply inflame the passions of those who either don’t like, or don’t understand, the news media. At worst, they openly encourage violence targeting journalists,” Shelley wrote. “We believe they are particularly inflammatory within the context of today’s vitriolic political and ideological environment.”

Not to pick nits, but the media plays a huge role in the fact that the current environment is rather toxic. Various outlets allow partisan leanings to seep into their reporting of the news, and far too many stories are treated as if they are the end of the world as we know it.

That said, there’s zero acceptable reasons for calling for violence against anyone, and the group points out that a number of journalists have been attacked across the globe in recent times.

“As a fierce proponent of the First Amendment that is politically nonpartisan, we recognize Walmart’s right to sell the T-Shirts, and the right of consumers to purchase and wear them,” Shelley continued. “However, just because Walmart has the right to sell the shirts, that doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do.”

After digesting Shelley’s letter and mulling things over, the shirt was removed from the marketplace. Walmart would issue a statement to make nice from that point.

"This item was sold by a third-party seller on our marketplace and clearly violates our policy," spokesperson said. "We removed it as soon as it was brought to our attention, and are conducting a thorough review of the seller’s assortment."

That’s all fine, well, and good, but why is the company waiting for a complaint before reviewing a seller’s assortment? Is there not some sort of checks and balances system in place before items get advertised on the Walmart website?

We’re going to assume that there are, and that points to a rather large ball being dropped somewhere along the way.

As for Shelley, he’s correct to call out the shirt as being completely unnecessary and inflammatory, but perhaps this is a fantastic time for the RTDNA to examine media’s role in exacerbating the current toxicity.

Source: The Hill, Kansas City Star
Photos: Random Retail/Flickr, YouTube, The Hill, Matt Johnson/Wikimedia

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