Youth clothing retailer PacSun removed a controversial T-shirt with the image of an upside down American flag on Memorial Day “out of respect” for veterans.
The $24 T-shirt, sold online and in select stores, was part of rapper A$AP Rocky’s clothing line, and allegedly was meant to symbolize a nation in distress.
However, many PacSun consumers felt differently, taking to Twitter with the hashtag #boycottPacSun to voice their outrage over what they considered a disrespectful misuse of the Stars and Stripes.
Among those participating in the hashtag was 67-year-old actor James Woods, who urged his 227,285 followers to boycott the company, along with tweets detailing how the flag is to be flown with respect.
"Please, every follower of mine, please #BoycottPacSun. Disgusting trashing of American Flag on Memorial Day," Woods tweeted.
Posts on both Facebook and Twitter went viral, including Florida resident Rachel Zawacki-Kuss’ post, which received over 8,000 shares. “I understand freedom of speech but this shirt, displayed prominently at the entrance of your store, for Memorial Day weekend is more distasteful and disrespectful than anything I thought I'd see. I will not be shopping at PacSun again,” she wrote.
Others, including veteran disability lawyer Eric Gang, voiced the position that PacSun has the right to sell whatever items it believes will make money for the company. "Our Bill of Rights protects this T-shirt as much as it protects my right to disagree. Pulling the shirt protects no one,” Gang wrote.
PacSun responded to the viral uproar by removing the shirt from its stores and website, as well as posting an official statement to Facebook:
“As a retailer grounded in youth culture, PacSun values artistic and creative expression through the brands that we sell in our stores. Out of respect for those who have put their lives on the line for our country, we have decided to stop selling the licensed flag t-shirt and are removing it from our stores and website immediately. We thank the men and women in uniform for their extraordinary service.”
According to U.S Flag code, “the flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property."