Racist Dog Meat Shirt Sparks Debate

Racist Dog Meat Shirt Sparks Debate

Racist Dog Meat Shirt Sparks Debate

A German online retail store, Spreadshirt, has sparked a heated debate online between “free speech” and “racism” when two of its t-shirts, “SAVE A DOG, eat a CHINESE” and “SAVE A SHARK, eat a CHINESE”, popped up for sale. It has caused such an uproar that the Chinese embassy in Germany has gotten involved.

Chinese officials condemned these t-shirts as an “insult to China” and asked for an official apology. “The embassy argued that rather than sounding apologetic, Spreadshirt’s statement  only ‘defended its indulgence in insult and discrimination’ according to Chinese state media the Global Times.”

Despite Spreadshirt’s website stating, "discrimination and insult especially concerning ethics, gender and religion are forbidden”  Spreadshirt has been defending the “open platform principle” and “free speech” as its reasons for keeping the t-shirts on sale. On March 10, the company's Facebook page published this post:

"Two community-submitted designs on the Spreadshirt platform, ‘Save a shark Eat a Chinese’ and ‘Save a dog Eat a Chinese’, have been discussed. After close examination and careful consideration, we have decided, based on our open platform principle, to keep the 2 designs in question. If you have any questions or comments on this topic, please contact us at"

Meat eating culture in China is a source of much contention, and will continually be debated especially with the Yulin Dog Meat Festival set to start in a few months. It is important to note that NOT all Chinese people eat dogs. Statistics show that 70% have never eaten dog meat. Many Chinese people see dogs as companions and not food.

It is unfair and racist to stereotype all members of a race or nationality for the actions of only a portion of its group or citizenry, and we agree with Facebook poster, Rick Teng, who says,

"Save a dog, eat a Chinese? Save a shark, eat a Chinese? In this day and age when you can make money AND provide positive messages for young and old people worldwide, you'd rather resort to sleazy, racist jokes to attract the attention of slap-happy bigots. Are you in dire need of publicity because of your decreasing sales? If people get hurt as a result of your t-shirts targeting and mocking an entire race, be prepared for a parade of lawsuits coming your way."

Spreadshirt is an online platform where user-generated designs can be sold. It's too bad the shirt creators couldn't think of a non-racist way to bring attention to the issue of dog and shark fin eating. To do the best for the dogs and finally end dog meat, we must first understand our own culture of animal eating and abuse before we can truly make our voices heard for animals in Asia.

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