This week, Etsy reportedly banned pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” merchandise while allowing sellers to list merchandise with the originally anti-Trump slogan “Not My President.” Etsy has claimed that “Stop the Steal” merchandise “promotes or endorses harmful misinformation,” even though President Donald Trump is contesting the 2020 election results.
“Trump Derangement Syndrome strikes crafters AGAIN. My friend Deplorable Knitter told me her [Stop the Steal] hats have been banned on Etsy,” journalist Michelle Malkin reported on Twitter. “Here’s the email notification from Etsy: ‘Certain types of content are not appropriate for the Etsy marketplace. This includes content that promotes or endorses harmful misinformation, including items that can obstruct election integrity.”
Here's the email notification from Etsy: "Certain types of content are not appropriate for the Etsy marketplace. This includes content that promotes or endorses harmful misinformation, including items that can obstruct election integrity: https://t.co/oFi5Vgs7w2 /2 pic.twitter.com/ZGFkOPQRqg
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) December 2, 2020
“The US election is a major focus for many Etsy buyers and sellers right now, and we understand that members of our community are interested in commemorating this election with items that display the election results,” the Etsy email continued. “Now that a projected winner of the US presidential election has been announced, contradictory declarations of victory or content that disputes the validity of the outcome may be considered harmful misinformation and will be removed in order to minimize confusion about the election outcome.”
“Even if it isn’t a seller’s intention to encourage or condone harmful misinformation, Etsy reserves the right to remove items that we determine aren’t in the spirit of our marketplace or otherwise violate our policies,” the company continued.
Etsy is a private company, and it has the right to determine what sellers can and cannot list on its platform. However, it seems rather petty to ban “Stop the Steal” merchandise, especially given Trump’s decision to contest the election results, including many lawsuits alleging fraud and irregularities that throw Democrat Joe Biden’s leads in key swing states in doubt.
While Biden likely did win the 2020 election, it remains possible that Trump’s narrative may be correct. The president’s court challenges have a mixed record and his window of opportunity is shrinking, but if courts rule that election officials did indeed violate the law and that votes need to be recounted to combat fraud, it is possible Trump could prevail.
“Stop the Steal” does suggest that Trump won the election, a claim for which there is no proof. While there are disturbing reports of fraud and irregularities that deserve examination and that may suggest the election has been “stolen,” it is extremely premature to claim that the president won. Even if fraud accounts for Biden’s victory, it may not be possible to reverse the election result. It may be impossible to separate legal from illegal ballots if election officials — rather than voters — broke the law by setting up unconstitutional procedures, as Trump has claimed.
At the same time, it is also premature to claim that “Stop the Steal” is entirely false and “harmful misinformation.” While the narrative is unlikely, it may prove true.
Finally, if Etsy is going to police election “misinformation,” why does it allow the “Not My President” slogan? While the claim that Trump is “not my president” may be a personal declaration of someone’s feelings about the president, it also suggests that Trump is somehow illegitimate.
To be fair, Etsy also allows Joe Biden-themed “Not My President” merchandise.
Yet if Etsy is going to allow “Not My President” merchandise, why ban “Stop the Steal” merchandise, which makes a similar claim? If Etsy intends to ban “Stop the Steal” merchandise, why not wait to do so until the Electoral Collge officially confirms Joe Biden’s victory (which remains likely)?
This decision appears to be a form of petty virtue-signaling. Like Twitter with its incessant election “fact-checks,” Etsy seems intent to put its foot down in claiming that Joe Biden won despite worrisome evidence of fraud and irregularities and despite Trump’s election challenges.
As Breitbart’s Allum Bokhari noted, Etsy still allows merchandise dedicated to the violent extremist antifa movement — including a button featuring a spiked and bloody baseball bat with the slogan “bash the fash” — despite its policy banning items that glorify violence.
Etsy did not respond to PJ Media’s request for comment by press time.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.