Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, February 19, 2014
A Utah mom came up with a pretty ingenious way to stop teenagers from purchasing what she considered to be “indecent” T-shirts on sale at the local mall: Buy them all so the teens can’t.
According to The Associated Press, Judy Cox and her 18-year-old son were shopping at the University Mall in Orem, Utah Saturday when she saw T-shirts featuring scantily clad models in provocative poses in the window of a PacSun store. She promptly complained about the window display to a store manager, who informed her that the shirts couldn’t be taken down without approval from the store’s corporate office.
“I had a conversation with the store manager,” Cox told The Provo Daily Herald. “She said she did refuse to put the accompanying banner up with the display because it was much worse, but that she couldn’t take down the T-shirts without talking to her corporate office, but the promo was over Wednesday anyway. She said she told them it might not go over well.”
Disappointed with the answer, Cox then bought all 19 T-shirts in stock at the store, setting her back $567. She does plan on returning all of them at the end of the chain store’s 60-day return period, however. The shirts in question retail for $27.95 according to the store’s website.
“These shirts clearly cross a boundary that is continually being pushed on our children in images on the Internet, television and when our families shop in the mall,” Cox said in an email to the AP.
PacSun CEO Garry Schoenfeld told the AP in an emailed statement that the California-based company takes pride in the beach-themed products it sells, many of which are inspired by music, art, fashion and sports. There are approximately 600 retail stores nationwide according to the company’s website.
“While customer feedback is important to us, we remain committed to the selection of brands and apparel available in our stores,” he said.
Orem, which bills itself as “Family City USA,” is a city of approximately 90,000 in an extremely conservative part of the state. A majority of Orem residents belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which opposes pornography and encourages its youth to dress and act modestly.
On Tuesday, Cox met with Orem city attorney Greg Stephens to discuss whether the images on the T-shirts in question violated the city code. Stephens told Cox she would need to file a complaint with the police, who would then review the issue and decide whether it should be passed on to Stephens. The city’s code prohibits anyone from placing “explicit sexual material” on public display, and defines that as “any material that appeals to a prurient interest in sex and depicts nudity, actual or simulated sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse.”
Cox told the AP that she’s pursuing the issue because she wants it to be known that these types of images aren’t acceptable for public display. ”I hope my efforts will inspire others to speak up within their communities,” Cox said in an email. “You don’t have to purchase $600 worth of T-shirts, but you can express your concerns to businesses and corporations who promote the display of pornography to children.”
University Mall manager Rob Kallas confirmed that the PacSun display has been dismantled now that Cox bought all the associated T-shirts. He added that the store manager told him she was embarrassed to put up the display and was simply following instructions from corporate, and that this is the first time he’s received a complaint over PacSun’s products. Kallas, who had not seen the T-shirts in question until being contacted by Cox, agrees that they were inappropriate.
“This is a store that caters to junior high and high school age kids,” he told the AP. “Some of the poses were provocative and were inappropriate for a store catering to young people.”