Monday, January 17, 2011

A Little Controversial

No matter what time of day I peruse Etsy I find all sorts of wonderful things from fun vintage shoes to hairdo do-dads.  There are things for babies, things for teens, and things for adults.  There is artwork with rainbows and unicorns and creations from the dark side.  There is stunning jewelry that'll knock your hand-knit socks off.  While I may occasionally see something a little embarrassing, I have never seen anything offensive.

Apparently I'm not looking hard enough.  Seems there have been some items that "sparked intense debate" about what items should be allowed on Etsy.

Seems Etsy's policies have "prohibited disparaging or promoting hate against people based on race or religion for quite a long time. But they never covered gender, people with disabilities, or sexual orientation."

The new policy states, in a nutshell:  "We no longer allow items or listings that promote, support or glorify hatred toward or otherwise demean people based upon race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation; including items or content that promote organizations with such views... The revised policy now prohibits items or listings that promote or support illegal activity or instruct others to engage in illegal activity and items or listings that promote, support or glorify acts of violence or harm towards self or others."

I agree with Etsy's policy, but there's something to be said about those who have taken offense in what they've seen on Etsy.  The above images are Pulp Fiction magnets I've sold on Etsy.  Some may see them as demeaning to women, as disparaging the gay community, and/or as glorifying illegal activity.  I see them as smutty paperback novel artwork.  Who's right?  I don't know how my buyers viewed them, but obviously they weren't "offended" or they wouldn't have given up their hard-earned cash to buy them.  And the question is, will I be allowed to continue putting these items up for sale with the new Etsy policy?

Etsy welcomes inquiries from sellers as to their items' compliance with the new policy.  I hesitate to put them up for sale, but I'm also a business person who needs to earn a little jing.  I'm also not inclined to run my dozens of magnets by Etsy for approval.  So I'm kind of in a pickle.

What's your opinon on the situation?  While Etsy certainly has the right to allow or disallow anything they want on their website, do you think it's up to the members of Etsy (the buyers and sellers) to flag items as being offensive?  This isn't necessarily a matter of censorship because no one is telling the artisans they can't create, but who decides what is "offensive?"  And how many offended people does it take for Etsy to pull the item?

To see the policy announcement and hundreds of comments made on the subject click here.

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