T-shirt maker Zazzle weighs in on the political landscape!

Every year for Christmas, my SO makes original, satirical t-shirt gifts for his family, which he designs and orders through Zazzle. In 2018 my shirt read “Eat Prey, Love” (ideal for me, because I’m an editor by trade and I disdain Elizabeth Gilbert). In 2019 my shirt said “Cognitive Dissident” (apparently a slip of the tongue by The Mooch, and a lovely malapropism).

The surprise of what everyone’s shirts will say this Christmas is not to be spoiled, but he assures me that the text emblazoned on each befits the shitshow that is 2020. (I know we’d discussed the possibility of a 4x5 grid of dead crows, with only one of them alive, with the caption “Corvid 19.”)

So it seems Zazzle rejected one of his shirt designs, with a sniffy little “we don’t think this is acceptable” email.

The shirt they rejected was a teeny, tiny dog shirt for an impossibly teeny, tiny dog (an Italian greyhound like this). Because the shirt - in a very tiny size, obviously for a completely harmless miniature creature - was going to say “Antifa.”

I suspect Zazzle, as a private company, is well within its rights. It doesn’t even bother me. Certainly I had no objections when I got an email from Penzey’s a few months ago expressing solidarity with progressive ideals. As long as places like Zazzle or Penzey’s don’t discriminate against any protected classes, they can decide the parameters within which they wish to operate.

Still, in light of the fact that the other shirts were apparently much more political and harsh, it seems an amusing choice to single out the Antifa dog sweater. Evidently the idea that Antifa is “all bark and no bite” because the size was the smallest one they sell did not occur to them.

For the moment I am assuming that the political messages in the other shirts went over the heads of Zazzle’s censorship team. After Christmas I’ll be able to give a fuller report on what designs passed muster when “Antifa” did not.

If the designs are submitted with a text description, it might be as simple as certain keywords being detected and flagged for review. ‘Covid’ might be on that list, but ‘Corvid’ probably isn’t.

That’s awesome! I would love to buy a shirt with that on it. Brilliant.

I’m not sure it’s reasonable to expect them to okay a shirt design based on the size of the shirt.

Fair enough. What do you think about them rejecting a design with the word “antifa” in it, regardless of size or style of the item? As for me, I think they are within their rights to reject it, but I’m a bit concerned about their choices. If it didn’t cost money to place an order, I’d test them out on a whole lot of designs. For example - would they print a “Proud Boys” shirt? If they reject “antifa” I would hope they’d also reject that one.

How about “Loud Boys”?


…or “antiantifa”? The question is, how sophisticated are their people or their algorithms for rejecting designs?

If I were wealthy enough I’d order a whole range of shirts to see which ones they’d print and which ones they wouldn’t. (Where’s John Oliver when you need him? Maybe he could get a show out of it, if the CEO of Zazzle is sufficiently interesting.)