OKLAHOMA CITY — A woman whose Marine son died while serving in Iraq is fighting to keep his name off anti-war T-shirts.
Judy Vincent learned last year that Cpl. Scott M. Vincent’s name is among about 1,700 included on a T-shirt being sold by an Arizona man over the Internet. The front of the shirt reads “Bush Lied,” and the back reads “They Died.”
The Bokoshe woman, whose son was killed in April 2004, pushed for Oklahoma legislators to pass a law that makes it a misdemeanor to use a soldier’s name or likeness for advertising purposes without consent. The law goes into effect this November.
U.S. Rep. Dan Boren introduced a similar bill in Congress, H.R.5755, earlier this month after Vincent asked him to do so. Republican U.S. Reps. Charles W. Boustany Jr. of Louisiana and Geoff Davis of Kentucky introduced similar legislation (H.R.5772) around the same time. [Editor's note: Both HR 5755 and HR 5772 were stalled in committee until the end of the session, which killed them.]
Vincent said the shirt vendor “has the right to voice his opinion, as we all do.”
“But I do believe the First Amendment stops when you use a person’s name or likeness to make a profit. I don’t care what he thinks about the war. I do care that he’s making money off my son’s death,” she said.
The shirt vendor, Dan Frazier of Flagstaff, Ariz., recently issued an open letter to family members who contacted him to protest the use of their loved ones’ names on the shirt. He praised the soldiers’ bravery and sacrifice and insisted he was not trying to degrade their service, but said he would not stop selling the merchandise.
“Every name matters, and will be retained to help underscore the horrific loss of life that has been caused by President Bush’s rush to war under false pretenses,” the letter states.
Responding to the federal legislation, Frazier posted a statement on his Web site vowing to fight it in court if necessary, but added that he would probably run out of merchandise before any law might take effect. He said it had sold poorly and he was unlikely to make more.