Creating Design Controversy Where There Isn’t Any

We’ve already done one post about silly conservative crackpottery this week and we know it’s fairly passe anymore to point out the focused agenda of Fox News, but sometimes we just can’t resist. What forces our hands to type these very words is this story on Fox’s website: “Cross-Like T-Shirt Design at Penn State University Sparks Controversy.” It’s about a limited-edition t-shirt put together by the university for an upcoming game, the design of which features a vertical line crossed by the name of the school at chest level, making it look like a bit of Christian iconography. It wasn’t intended to be religious and it functions with the university’s established branding, but the story latches on to the six people who have complained to the school about all of this. From there, they talk to university staff, the designer, and students of a variety of faiths, seemingly trying to dig out some juicy quotes about this “controversy,” as described in the piece’s title. The problem is that no one seems to have much of an issue with it, at times even seeming to call out Fox’s attempt at making this non-issue story bigger than it is:

Nick Mangus, a senior majoring in East Asian studies, described the controversy as “ridiculous” and said images of crosses can be seen virtually anywhere, even in “tiles on the floor.”

“Honestly, I think it’s basically people just trying to stir up controversy over something that’s ridiculous,” Mangus said. “If you don’t want to buy it, don’t buy it. It’s that simple. You don’t have to try and force everyone else to change their ways because you think it’s offensive.”

We’re all for raising a ruckus when lines have been crossed, almost always when it involves one group trying to force the other into following its beliefs. But there’s just no “controversy” here. This isn’t a case of trying to silence Christians, despite what the headline wants to hook you with from the start. Instead, it’s just a bunch of quotes that don’t add up to much more than “Why are we talking about this?” For further reading, here are some more thoughts on the whole matter from a local Penn State blog.

Publish date: October 28, 2009 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT