Ridiculing the Penn State t-shirt controversy

Here is how to deal with a pseudo-controversy (referring to the student-selected t-shirt design for a football game, the logo drawn from the stripe on the Penn State uniform). Penn State Students Poke Fun at T-Shirt Cross 'Controversy' | Christianpost.com:

Though the two-side design looks innocent enough, to some, the combination of the vertical blue stripe running down the center of the shirt’s front side along with the words “Penn State” cutting across the vertical beam appeared reminiscent of a cross.

Penn State t-shirt

And to a handful of students, the seemingly religious imagery on the shirt was reason enough to file complaints with the university and even to organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, which in turn contacted Penn State officials.

According to Bill Mahon, vice president of university relations, six people have voiced their objections to Penn State over the shirt design while around 30,000 shirts have so far been sold.

Despite the small number of complaints, the school’s newspaper and even Fox News picked up on the story and brought the alleged controversy into light to the surprise of many Penn State students. . . .

In three letters that appeared in the Collegian on Monday, students further expressed how laughable the current controversy is and how it’s been blown out of proportion.

“While driving through Centre County, I saw power poles shaped like crosses. Advice to Allegheny Power: You'd better change your design before someone is offended,” wrote Penn State alumnus David Dimmick.

Recent graduate Steve Edling also mocked the current controversy, suggesting sarcastically that it was time to protest that all lowercase t’s be immediately stricken from campus as well.

“From this day forth, the words ‘Penn State’ shall be in all caps or never written at all, because crosses belong at Notre Dame and nowhere else,” he wrote.

This is a good example of how humor–satire, ridicule, laughter–is often a better way to respond to things like this than trying to out-outrage those who are outraged.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Tom Hering

    Oh. I thought the shirt was anti-WASP and pro-minorities. There’s a cross combined with the words “White Out.”

  • Tom Hering

    Oh. I thought the shirt was anti-WASP and pro-minorities. There’s a cross combined with the words “White Out.”

  • Jonathan

    Capital “T” is also highly suspect as it is reminiscent of the Tau cross.

  • Jonathan

    Capital “T” is also highly suspect as it is reminiscent of the Tau cross.

  • CRB

    Speaking of symbols, here’s a story
    about an upcoming movie that makes one
    exception to religious symbols being
    destroyed when the world ends in 2012
    I’m not surprised which symbol is spared
    by these hollywood hypocrites!
    http://scifiwire.com/2009/11/5-best-things-2012s-direc.php

  • CRB

    Speaking of symbols, here’s a story
    about an upcoming movie that makes one
    exception to religious symbols being
    destroyed when the world ends in 2012
    I’m not surprised which symbol is spared
    by these hollywood hypocrites!
    http://scifiwire.com/2009/11/5-best-things-2012s-direc.php

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    What the article fails to mention is that the original t-shirt design actually said on the back, “Behold a host arrayed in white! It’s just me and 143,999 of my friends.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    What the article fails to mention is that the original t-shirt design actually said on the back, “Behold a host arrayed in white! It’s just me and 143,999 of my friends.”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So is anyone shocked — shocked! — to find that those involved in blowing this “out of proportion” are none other than [drum roll, please] Fox News? Specifically, Fox & Friends?

    I know Fox News is nothing but the finest in fair and balanced reporting — they report, I decide — but I do have to wonder, even given all that, why they’re covering this non-story, especially when they seem to take pains to play down the story even while they play it up.

    Hmm. It’s almost like there’s some sort of agenda on that program. You can almost detect it, reading between the lines, in such comments like this from journalist and former Miss America pageant winner Gretchen Carlson: “now we’re in this PC society”. But I can’t … put my finger on it.

    This fine piece of journalism also features such quality questions as:

    “Are you surprised that, even if it was a cross, that there’d be this type of outrage?”

    “Have you ever taken a business class or an economics class about free capitalism at Penn State?”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So is anyone shocked — shocked! — to find that those involved in blowing this “out of proportion” are none other than [drum roll, please] Fox News? Specifically, Fox & Friends?

    I know Fox News is nothing but the finest in fair and balanced reporting — they report, I decide — but I do have to wonder, even given all that, why they’re covering this non-story, especially when they seem to take pains to play down the story even while they play it up.

    Hmm. It’s almost like there’s some sort of agenda on that program. You can almost detect it, reading between the lines, in such comments like this from journalist and former Miss America pageant winner Gretchen Carlson: “now we’re in this PC society”. But I can’t … put my finger on it.

    This fine piece of journalism also features such quality questions as:

    “Are you surprised that, even if it was a cross, that there’d be this type of outrage?”

    “Have you ever taken a business class or an economics class about free capitalism at Penn State?”

  • Dan Kempin

    Todd, #4,

    I must ask you to show some restraint with your casual musical allusions. Yesterday you quoted a RUSH song that stayed with me all day. Now I’m whistling “Behold a host arrayed in white.” Get out of my head, man!

  • Dan Kempin

    Todd, #4,

    I must ask you to show some restraint with your casual musical allusions. Yesterday you quoted a RUSH song that stayed with me all day. Now I’m whistling “Behold a host arrayed in white.” Get out of my head, man!

  • Joe

    Christians are the ones who should be filing complaints. Penn State’s attempt at stealing our symbology are converting it into a crass marketing ploy is offensive.
    ;)

  • Joe

    Christians are the ones who should be filing complaints. Penn State’s attempt at stealing our symbology are converting it into a crass marketing ploy is offensive.
    ;)


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