Game Shirt Sparks Concern

Satire V humor magazine pulls 'Yale Sucks, Jeter Swallows' T-shirt off market

With all the controversies surrounding the annual Harvard-Yale football game and the perennial Red Sox-Yankees duel, it was just a matter of time before a conflict arose involving both rivalries.

Satire V, a Harvard humor magazine, sparked complaints on campus by selling T-shirts that read, “Yale Sucks, Jeter Swallows.”

Some students were offended by the shirt, viewing its negative portrayal of oral sex as offensive to gays and women, and aired their views over House open lists. Due to these concerns, Satire V has decided not to sell the shirts publicly.

The shirt, which was designed for The Game but was put on sale this Saturday and Monday in the middle of the American League Championship Series, combined the slogans of the “Yankees Suck, Jeter Swallows” shirts sold at Red Sox games and the “Yale Sucks” shirts sold for the annual contest against Yale.

The “Jeter Swallows” portion of the shirt is an attack by Boston Red Sox fans on the highest-profile member of the New York Yankees, shortstop Derek Jeter.

“These are two kind of clichéd T-shirts that are around,” said Evan Hepler-Smith ’06, editor-in-chief of Satire V, “and we thought that it would be funny and that people would be amused and buy the shirt if we combined the two clichés into one.”

House e-mail lists were bombarded about the shirt. The debate became especially heated on Moose-droppings, the Dunster House list.

M. Barusch '06, a member of the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters Alliance (BGLTSA), posted to the list: “I think this is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen on campus.”

“I can’t believe that homophobia sells,” Barusch wrote.

Joseph R. Geschlecht ’06, who replied to the post on Dunster’s list, added to his comments in a phone interview.

“This is one more example of how offensive and discriminatory language makes its way into everyday discourse,” he said. “People who use it don’t bother to think that other people might be offended by it. You don’t have to find it personally offensive to recognize that it is.”

But Ryan “Trini” Abraham ’06 wrote in an e-mail to Mather’s open list that people should not take the issue so seriously.

“I am definitely a strong supporter of people learning to be more tolerant of different groups, whether sexual, racial, or religious,” he wrote. “But I am also very supportive of people learning to become more light-hearted about issues that shouldn’t be taken too seriously, especially when the intent is probably not a harmful one.”

Jessica L. Jones ’06 turned the situation on its head: “Everyone has been complaining because it is degrading to women, gays, Yale, and the Yankees to associate them with oral sex. I say, what is more true is that it’s degrading to oral sex to associate it with the Yankees,” she wrote.

Hepler-Smith said he was contacted by a member of the BGLTSA, who expressed his reservations about the shirt.

“In light of his concerns,” said Hepler-Smith, “and in light of the potential of the T-shirt to offend some students, we have decided to take the shirt off the market.”

Hepler-Smith said he noticed little opposition to the shirts while they were on sale in front of the Science Center.

“The reaction of the majority of people to our shirt while we were selling it was either amusement or confusion from people who had no idea who ‘Jeter’ was,” he said.

Although the shirts are not currently being sold out in public, Kees A. Vandenberg III ’06, president of Satire V, says that the remaining shirts can still be purchased through e-mail.

The shirts, which sold for $10 each, were a hot commodity, with 130 of the 150 original shirts selling on Saturday and Monday. The shirts were not openly for sale yesterday, but Vandenberg claims that rain was the main factor in the decision.