In a move that is sure to be heralded by record label executives everywhere, the GOP has threatened to sue CafePress because its users are incorporating Republican elephants and the initials GOP in shirts and stickers sold on the site.
A few of the items mentioned in the complaint are just what you’d expect, pro-Democrat statements that integrate Republican Party symbols, but most of the items listed are actually very complimentary to the party.
The issues raised by the Republican’s threatening of CafePress go far beyond the sales of a few T-shirts, according the staff at Public Citizen.
The RNC trademarked GOP in 1997 and a stylized elephant showing three stars across its body in 1995, despite the fact that these Republican Party references have been in popular use since the 1870s. Using its trademark registrations, the RNC seeks to suppress the use of GOP and elephant images that refer to Republicans.
Symbols and acronyms such as these provide an important way to refer to major figures in our society and in our culture, and threats of litigation, impoverish our public discourse. Even worse, the lawsuit that the RNC has threatened against CafePress, which is represented in this matter by Public Citizen, comes during a hot election year when the public should be empowered to express its political views, not subject to suppression of those views. An energized political season sees both favorable and critical political expressions, which is at the heart of a healthy dialogue that Americans treasure.
Perhaps this is an attempt by the Republican Party to show that they truly can reach across party lines. They don’t just want to bully progressive Democrats, they’d rather intimidate and harass all Americans equally.