I like to think that I have a pretty thick skin. But there are certain things that just revolt me. This is one of them.
If you think this calendar looks like a tasteless, homophobic piece of trash that only an anti-gay bigot would find remotely funny, you're right. "Christian" (in quotes because I don't think Jesus of Nazareth would find this cartoon very Christian, or humorous for that matter) cartoonist Joe King drew twelve homophobic cartoons, one for each month of the year, and each just as disgusting as the last. And this is the result. It's being sold on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. On Amazon, you can view the inside of the calendar, but it's difficult to make much of the wording out. But you'll notice from the "We All Have AIDS" sign that for February, the cartoonist makes AIDS a target of his "Christian humor." Yeah, because nothing says "Christian humor" like a good AIDS joke.
Yes, I support free speech. Joe King can draw whatever vile, offensive cartoon he wants to draw. This is a "free country," after all. But since this is a free country, reputable companies such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble are also free to choose which items they want to sell and which items they don't want to sell. And since this is a free country, we're also free as consumers to pressure companies not to sell offensive products that demean a group of people.
I called Amazon and Barnes & Noble today. I spoke with a supervisor at Amazon who agreed that the calendar is highly offensive. She said Amazon does pull certain offensive items, but it takes a lot of customer feedback to make a decision like that. The customer service representative I spoke with at Barnes & Noble was noticeably appalled that the company was selling the item, and she said, "Surely somebody wouldn't make something like this in this day and age." Oh, but they would.
The many, many negative reviews of this calendar are encouraging. If you feel so inclined, please consider writing a review on Amazon or the Barnes & Noble website. Also consider sending an e-mail and/or making a phone call. The only way Amazon and Barnes & Noble will get the message is with lots and lots of feedback. And if you have Twitter, tweet them. And write on their Facebook walls! Contact/Twitter/Facebook information is below.
Barnes & Noble
Here's some of Joe King's other work, to contextualize this particular calendar.
And here's King talking about his free speech being under attack.
Like I said, Joe King has free speech. He's free to promote his homophobic trash. That doesn't mean companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble have to help him.
UPDATE: Here's what Joe King had to say on Facebook in response to the uproar (h/t to Mr Green Jeans).
Hoo-we! Hell hath no fury like a he/she scorned... The telephone tree of tantrums is lit up like a Las Vegas marquee for "Boy-Lesque" today with hate mail, threats of boycott and even the risk of Jesus spitting on me for my "Sissy" calendar. I SAID I WAS A SISSY UP FRONT. Ironic who the real bullies are isn't it? Let's see if I get a call from Oprah's people or even Anderson Cooper...
He then commented on his post with this gem:
The "truth" is that AIDS is an "elective" disease.
It STOPS the day guys quit sticking it to each other.
And for the tragedy of women and children infected...
THAT stops the day their gay husbands and fathers stop cheating on them.
Anyone need MORE education, science or funding to understand THAT?
He's a real class act, that Joe King. Wow.
UPDATE #3: There is a change.org petition up demanding that Amazon pull the calendar. Please sign it!
UPDATE #4: And...Amazon pulled it! Mission accomplished! Thanks, everybody!