On one of my trips to Boston a few years ago, I was strolling through Quincy Market and picked up a Gadsden Flag tshirt as a souvenir. I didn’t buy it to make any kind of modern day political statement, I just thought the coiled rattlesnake over the “Don’t tread on me” was a neat, old-timey-looking thing and it reminded me of a Metallica album cover so I bought it. My thought process and ultimate decision to buy it was probably the way Bevis and/or Butthead might have gone through the process. Not much thought just; hey, cool snake. It’s coiled. I’m buying this.
I have noticed that more Tea Party-types with an anarchy twinkle in their eye compliment me on the shirt than Metallica fans (Metallica has a song called Don’t Tread on Me). I was always weirded out when I wore the shirt because I felt like I was issuing an invitation to strangers with a passionate hobby for debating constitutional law to engage me in conversation. I’d swat them away with a comment about how I just thought the shirt looked cool as the twinkle in their eye dimmed when they realized I was no longer a potential recruit for the citizens army they were trying to build. I wore the shirt in public anyway.
Now I hear that someone has decided it’s a symbol of racism. I don’t care how this shakes out. I’m done with wearing this shirt. It’s way too controversial. I’m a simple man who liked a shirt with a snake and a simple message on it. It’s a cool looking shirt but I’m not in to encouraging people to overthrow the government and I certainly don’t support or tolerate racism of any kind.
Anyhoo, I don’t feel sad about not wearing the shirt anymore so there’s no need to tell me that I shouldn’t cave to the demands of the politically correct. I’ll choose my own battles with all of that. To me, it’s simply a shirt and I don’t really care, I just thought it was interesting that something that I bought so innocently ends up being a banner for things I don’t support. I’m moving on to the next big thing that I innocently get tangled up in – whatever that may be.