ProJo Discovers Our Evil Little Shirts

As JT points out, the Providence Journal has discovered our Evil Little Shirts, the sale of which is helping to raise money for Jessica Ahlquist’s college fund. And the comments are so full of stupid that it may just burst. A few examples:

This is nothing more than a personal (her uncle) mission. She is being used by her own people. I wouldn’t buy the last glass of water on earth (while in the desert) to support any of this. If these people want to nit pick, stop using US currency that CLEARLY states “In GOD We Trust”. Wolves in sheeps clothing. This is disgraceful and shouldn’t be given one more minute of time by any of the media, print or otherwise.

There are two forms of stupid here. The first is this very popular claim by her critics that Jessica is somehow being manipulated by adults into doing this, a charge made without a shred of evidence by people who don’t know her. Given that Jessica has shown nothing but intelligence and strength of will throughout this situation, even in the face of rape and death threats, that’s clearly nonsense.

The second is this equally popular and utterly moronic argument about currency saying “In God we trust.” Talk about a red herring. Even if that slogan shouldn’t be there — and it shouldn’t — what does that have to do with the legal issues in this case? Nothing at all. In fact, this argument is exactly why that slogan should be done away with. The entire point of the First Amendment’s religion clauses is to eliminate laws that make those citizens who don’t believe in the dominant religion into second-class citizens. So here the good Christian folk who like that sort of thing use that slogan to argue that if you don’t think we should trust in God, you should therefore stop using money — and starve, of course. How rational.

The other claim that comes up again and again in the comments goes like this: “A ha, this must be the real reason for all this. It’s all about making money.”

This is probably the real reason that Ms. Ahlquist and her parents decided to volunteer for this lawsuit – they knew people would be angry and this would generate sympathy for her.

If her motives WERE pure, she would give the money to charity – but I’m not holding my breath.

And by another:

Her motives and the motives of Steve Brown for the entire suit have to be questioned now… Parlaying her 15 minutes of fame into a “pity scholarship” is a very sad and nearly pathetic turn of events.

Again, this is offered with no evidence at all by people who don’t know Jessica at all. In fact, they had no idea that Hemant would set up the fund or that we would use Palumbo’s vile comments as a way to raise money for it. As far as I know, Hemant invented the idea of a scholarship fund in such cases when he set one up for Damon Fowler last year. There was no track record of them ever existing before that, so there is no way they could expected it would happen here.

But none of this is relevant. These are distractions, attempts to impugn her motives rather than engage the legal reality of the case. And then there’s this:

The problem is that the Constitution DOES NOT SAY what she and you are saying that it does. PERIOD.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

CONGRESS. Not the courts, nor the states nor the local school superintendents.

OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF which is exactly what has happened here.

Sorry, you flunk. Yes, the First Amendment talks about Congress. But the First Amendment was applied to the states by the 14th Amendment after 1868. That’s why this dolt has the right to write a letter full of ignorance to the newspaper without the state or local government throwing them in jail for it. Do you suppose if the state of Rhode Island had a law allowing them to arrest the letter writer and put them in jail for it, they would agree that the First Amendment doesn’t protect their rights because it specifies Congress? Of course not. They’d be screaming bloody murder about it. Because they are both stupid and a hypocrite.

As for free exercise, this case has nothing to do with it. The free exercise of religion does not mean you get to have the government endorse your beliefs. You can say that prayer any time you’d like, of course, and the Free Exercise Clause protects your right to do so. It doesn’t mean the government — and yes, the school is the government — gets to make official endorsements of your religion.

By the way, the shirts are selling like crazy, almost 400 orders in already and still coming. The company, which is a small one-woman operation, is pretty much buried, so be patient in receiving them. The production time is probably going to run a couple weeks, plus shipping time.

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  • Cuttlefish

    Very sad news, Ed; it looks like the loathsome behavior of her classmates has forced Jessica to take a break.

    Of course, the comments blame her classmates. Oh, wait, they don’t; they claim Jessica can’t handle her academic tasks.

  • In God We Trust on the money isn’t an approval of Theism, it’s a cynical observation

  • I got a notice this morning that my shirt is on its way. Very excited.

    Can any of them explain why Jessica’s motives for the suit “must be questioned now,” unless we’re supposed to presume her to be psychic? Was she supposed to have known that a bunch of people who care about church and state separation would notice what she was doing, and then a state representative would insult her, and then they would use that insult as an opportunity to throw a little money her way toward a college education?

    And if she was psychic and did know that…who the hell cares?

  • Randomfactor

    Got my shirt last night. Can’t wait to wear it.


    And if she was psychic and did know that…who the hell cares?


  • Randomfactor

    By the way, the shirt is remarkably well-done, well above the quality I was expecting.

  • If the orders are getting too much, why not post the design on CafePress or Zazzle? In addition to shirts, the design could go on other merchandise as well.

  • DaveL

    I’ve been following this for a couple of days on the Providence Journal site, under ‘Flatworm’.

  • Randomfactor said:


    Ha! Good point.

    Maybe the complainers disagree, but I’d consider being vilified by your entire community for standing up for the right thing to be more “work” than some people put into earning college scholarships that pay out as much or more. I can’t get the Providence Journal article to load properly so can’t see any of the comments aside from the ones that Ed posted here, but it seems like the height of presumption to try and dictate what a sixteen year old does with a scholarship fund. It’s money for her to go to college. Going to college is good. End of story.

    earlycuyler said:

    If the orders are getting too much, why not post the design on CafePress or Zazzle? In addition to shirts, the design could go on other merchandise as well.

    I’d wait for some indication from the chosen printer that she can’t handle the orders before sending them somewhere else. And CafePress shirts are of pretty shoddy quality, imo. Zazzle are slightly better, but still…Hemant picked this printer, so let’s send her our business.

  • marcus

    Well once the production company catches up they will branch out into this design for pets as well. This would be perfect for my “Evil Little” pughuahua. (She already has the “Diva” t-shirt.)

  • marcus

    @9 Fail! Well once the production company catches up I HOPE they will branch out into this design for pets as well. This would be perfect for my “Evil Little” pughuahua. (She already has the “Diva” t-shirt.)

  • robb

    just ordered a shirt!

  • lofgren

    If these people want to nit pick, stop using US currency that CLEARLY states “In GOD We Trust”.

    It’s true, we should stop using American currency. Otherwise we’ll be doomed to the same hell as Christians who eat Halal turkeys on Thanksgiving.

  • noastronomer

    I’m lucky my currency doesn’t say ‘In God We Trust’. Someone who found it offensive must have blacked it out.

  • A $20 I spent this morning had “In Satan We Trust” on it, with something blacked out that I couldn’t read. Now whether it was that way when I pulled it from the ATM or not, well, in the immortal words of Ronald Reagan: “I don’t remember.”

  • Matt 21:12-13 And Jesus went into the Mall of America, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the place, and overthrew the banking machines, and the seats of them that sold tchotchkes, And said unto them, “What the hell is my Father’s name doing on money?”

  • muzakbox

    Everything about this makes me happy.

    Jessica is getting a nice scholarship fund.

    The small business is getting a huge boost in business.

    The first amendement was upheld.

    Bigots are being shown with their asses out all over the place from the comments to flower store owners.

    Atheists are rallying.

    It’s all so happy happy joy joy.

  • Jeremy Shaffer

    The second is this equally popular and utterly moronic argument about currency saying “In God we trust.”

    Not sure about anyone else but I used PayPal to buy my shirt, which doesn’t really use the physical currency the slogan is printed on.

  • Martin

    If these people want to nit pick, stop using US currency that CLEARLY states “In GOD We Trust”.

    Already on it.

    I pay for most purchases (including my “Evil Little Thing” shirt) with a check, credit card, debit card, PayPal, or direct bank transfer. I’ve never worked a job (as an adult) that pays cash, and most of the jobs I’ve held preferred to pay by direct deposit.

    I can go weeks without using currency.

  • Tony

    Last week, I purchased a stamp to places a banner across “In God We Trust” that reads instead “E Pluribus Unum” It arrived today and I immediately stamped all of the U.S. bills I had in my wallet.

    I got it following the instructions here:

  • davidct

    I rarely use “real” money these days. God does not seem to be needed for electronic transfers. When I do, I have taken to inking out the god bit. Since the spend-ability in unchanged, it is not illegal. I no longer recite the pledge, since some fools turned it into a prayer.

    As for the many arguments that the interpretation of the constitution is incorrect, that does not seem to be supported by the courts. The PJ seems to think that having an argument is as good as having legal standing.

  • organon

    I have my limits. There was too much concentrated stupidity in what was said. Hat’s off to you for speaking out. When people feel that much hatred and outrage toward a child…it’s too much. Insane. My sincere gratitude for the efforts of the adult who rights this blog for coming to the aid of a child. One who has committed no crime and yet faces so much from…adults. Any child who can face the abuses of adults to stand up for what she believes, is someone who the country should want to see go to College. Even if they don’t agree with her. Courage, conviction, integrity, rationality…how the ___ did these become negative character traits?

  • As long as I get my evil little shirt in time to wear it for Jessica’s speech at the Reason Rally, I’m happy.

  • test

  • Why is my comment not appearing?

  • Okay, I’ll try it without copying a previous commenter’s text.

    It wouldn’t shock me if some Bible Belt congressman submits a bill mandating In God We Trust on credit cards, debit cards, etc.

  • nekkidatheist

    I just checked my credit card, and then my debit card. No where does is say anything about trusting in god.

  • TCC (fka The Christian Cynic)

    Thank you, random hateful ProJo commenter, for reminding me that I have dollar bills in my wallet and a black Sharpie on my desk.

  • edmundog

    Every time I go to ProJo, there’s three or four people making that “in god we trust” argument. Some local god-botherer must have been using it.

  • Pinky

    So the choleric Christians are whinging because an entrepreneur had T-Shirts made with the invidious words of one of zir own on them.

    So the bitter fundies are unhappy with the free publicity of zir message: “Evil Little Thing,” and the profits of the T-Shirts enlarging a college fund for a seventeen year old woman.

    God damn, are fundies ever happy?

  • organon

    @#15, I really enjoy your comments. I wish I had the ability to say so much with so few words, and to infuse them with so much humor. I take joy in seeing someone else displaying that ability.

  • organon

    Much of the stuff from today’s blogs (and comments) have been churning in the back of my mind. I will here be trying to capture some of the thoughts. It is not in response to any particular comments. It is just some thoughts I feel the need to express. I have a daughter who is close to Jessica’s age. If adults were coming at my daughter similarly, I would see it as adults doing this to a child, and not because I see it as a derogatory term toward my daughter, but rather from perspective of where I view the actions of such adults in terms of morality. I cannot comprehend how persons could spend a significant number of years in adulthood and feel such hatred and animosity toward someone so young, and on top of that to act on those feelings. The actions are disgusting. Plain and simple. And I don’t care what their religious views are. Sometimes I read comments on this forum, and it seems almost that if the persons committing these actions were to say, it’s because of my religion I did these things, and thus I renounce my religion, suddenly they would be deemed OK. BS. Their actions are what they are, and their religious views are irrelevant. If I were hearing it, I would be unimpressed. They would be who they are, with or without their religion. The actions we choose are what is important. Some might want to hide behind their religion. Their religion might make them feel better about who they are. Some might even sincerely be seeking something that will help them to be a better person. People should be viewed as individuals. Hitler was German. It does not follow that his being German had anything to do with who he was or that who he was reflects on others simply because they too are German. Whether or not the persons who are committing these acts are christian or not should not be part of the discussion. If someone doing it were Christian, they would not be a better person by not being christian. Also, good acts should be viewed as such and not be written off simply because a person considers themself christian. When someone acts in such vile manner toward someone so young, such acts are what they are. I am thankful for Ed bringing acts of injustice to the attention of his readers. And I am thankful to be able to read the many thoughtful comments that some contribute. I just wish in other cases that there were a lot less focus on what anyone’s religious views happen to be. I come here hoping to get away from us vs. them thinking. I’m not impressed by anyone’s religious views. I am impressed by individuals and who they are as a person. And likewise for those I view as committing serious acts of evil. It is what it is. And I don’t even want to know what club they belong to. Their actions are their own. They should own those actions. And be evaluated as such. Not a shifting set of standards based on what club anyone should happen to belong to. Having a daughter close to Jessica’s age, adds to the sadness it brings me in reading stories about the actions against her. Despicable actions are despicable actions. The differences in stage of life makes them that much more dispicable. Religion…irrellevant.

  • Organon, thanks. My secret: irreverence.

  • dingojack

    organon – “Their actions are what they are, and their religious views are irrelevant.”

    I think their religious views are extremely relevant.

    They’re the ones claiming moral superiority, they’re the ones claiming those who don’t follow their god are immoral. So their actions are not only hateful but also hypocritical according to the tenets they claim follow and the standards that they set for themselves.

    Also, as I have pointed out earlier, if you follow a god who revels in being an authoritarian leader then you’ve got expect a large number of your fellow parishioners are going to be authoritarian followers.

    You created that god in your own image, but now you want to repudiate him?



    PS: Hitler was, by birth, an Austrian, not a German [/pedant]

  • If these people want to nit pick, stop using US currency that CLEARLY states “In GOD We Trust”.

    my “currency” doesn’t, since nowhere on my VISA does it say “In God We Trust”


    seriously, what a fucking stupid comment; and a prime example of why it’s not “silly” or frivolous to not want to have that motto on there (or anywhere) and instead return to the good, old-fashioned “e pluribus unum”

  • matty1

    I am actually surprised to learn that altering the appearance of bank notes in America is legal and has no effect on their spendability. I would have thought that counted as defacing legal tender and would at the very least give people the right to refuse that money.

    For clarity I don’t think this because I believe any of the words are special but for the practical point that if you could make money look however you wanted spotting counterfeits would be harder.

  • janeymack

    @ Tony #19–Thanks for the tip! Just ordered mine, and look forward to using it with pleasure.

    @matty1 #35–I suspect if you were to alter the appearance of bills too drastically, or in such a manner as to make the usual included security features hard to see, a bank or business probably could refuse to accept them. But defacing currency seems to be a not uncommon practice. I have seen bills with messages written on them–“happy birthday!” type things seem to be popular; pictures drawn on them; or various “alterations”– usually somewhat rude or juvenile in nature–made to the existing messages. I particularly enjoy when “where’s George?” shows up in my change and I can go to the “Where’s George” website and find out where my currency has been. I have also seen bills ripped up and taped back together–all sorts of weird things seems to happen to money. I guess it is kind of odd that none of these things seems to have an effect on the value of the currency involved, but I have never had a problem re-spending stuff that came into my hands in such conditions. So I hope a discreet stamp, strategically placed, will not be an issue.

  • rmw1982

    “Going to college is good. End of story.”

    Unfortunately, I very much doubt many of those commenters who are busy flinging vile and vitriol (among other things) at Miss Ahlquist would agree with you. I’m sure the fact that she intends to go to college makes her one of those “elitists” in addition to an “evil little thing” in the eyes of many of her detractors.