An Ocean City, Maryland business called the White Marlin Marina is causing controversy with some of the shirts they’re selling. Being that the small ocean-side resort town is home to a local fishing community, one shirt designer on the marina wanted to raise awareness of billfish conservation. He wanted to promote catch-and-release fishing for both white and blue marlins.
His shirts read, “White Lives Matter.” In the center of the shirt’s design is a flag with a white marlin on it. His “Blue Lives Matter” shirts are the same except they feature a blue marlin.
“We’re promoting people to use circle hooks, to bring them in safely and to release them back,” shirt designer George Lamplugh said. “Marlin conservation has been going on for 100 years, and it’s an important issue.”
The local NAACP chapter president Ivory Smith (wait…Ivory? Isn’t ivory white?… Never mind) said that the shirts are not a good idea, no matter what the designer’s motives are. “Let me be clear, all lives do matter, whether they’re white or black, cop or civilian, fish or dog,” he said. “However, we’re living in a time where African-Americans are suffering from a disproportionate amount of violence, and we do need to address that.”
Ivory Smith sees this as mocking or belittling Black Lives Matter by using the slogan for a completely unrelated topic like fish conservation. “It’s just all around a bad idea,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if someone wearing these shirts got punched in the face.”
But local fishing boat captain Ted Deppe said that anything has the potential to be offensive. He said he’s worn the shirt along the boardwalk, and no one seemed to care. “I don’t see what’s the big deal,” he said.
Deppe pointed out that other businesses had done similar things, such as one company called Swagger Fishing that sells shirts in promotion of non-release white marlin fishing. Their shirt reads, “Kill Whitey.” (That message is more politically correct, so that’s probably why the media didn’t seem to care about it.)
The “White Lives Matter” shirt’s designer George Lamplugh said that the context of his shirt’s message is so clear and far removed from racial issues that it shouldn’t cause controversy. He added that as soon as someone catches a black marlin, he’ll make “Black Lives Matter” shirts. Lamplugh, in part, blames the media for any controversy created over his shirts.
“At what point do we start getting offended? Where is the line?” he said. “At the end of the day, people are way too sensitive today.”
He remembered seeing people on the boardwalk wearing “black power” shirts, and it didn’t bother him. So, why should his “White Lives Matter” shirts bother anyone else?
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