A Kiss is Just a Kiss

Warning, this photo is offensive to children. At least tis according to the optimistically named organization One Million Moms.

The photo appears in the April 2012 Urban Outfitters catalogue and the Stepford moms who make up OMM claim, “The content is offensive and inappropriate for a teen who is the company’s target customer.” Really, a kiss?

The moms don’t just condemn the rather sweet photo, they want their faithful to complain to Urban Outfitters, and boycott the chain if the Outfitters tell them to take a hike. As well, they want Urban Outfitters to discontinue using the ad and to refrain from using this form of advertising in the future. Like that’s going to happen.

In March of this year UO caught a barrage of flak for selling St. Patrick’s Day themed merchandise which linked being Irish to excessive drinking. The Outfitters were criticized by the US Congressional Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs and the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, the largest Irish-American organization in the U.S. To my knowledge, UO did not pull the products.

Last year Urban Outfitters jumped into hot water by selling insensitively (and illegally) labelled “Navajo” underwear. The Navajo tribe has twelve trademarks on its nation’s name—two of which specifically refer to clothing—and they sent UO a cease and desist order. The products are still being sold under the company‘s other brands. 2011 in general was a bad year for the Outfitters, they also got dinged for allegedly knocking off state necklaces created by an Etsy jewellery designer, and using an underage model in salacious photos. Their stock dropped 27%.

Urban Outfitters is a company which seems to love controversy, but what about One Million Moms? Well, OMM is the love child of the American Family Association, a designated hate group.

OMM, a web-based activist group, describes itself as “the most powerful tool you have to stand against the immorality, violence, vulgarity and profanity the entertainment media is throwing at your children.”  The moms attempt to achieve their ends by attacking the advertisers of TV shows they don’t like, threatening boycotts of stores they  don’t like, and generally making a stink about anything they don’t like. The moms’ favourite weapon is the nasty email campaign.

OMM boasts many minor successes on their website but they’re probably best known for their spectacular failure to force J.C Penney to fire spokesperson Ellen DeGeneres. The moms hate gay people (this is significant) even more than they hate sexy television or sexy straight people, and Ellen is a lesbian. J.C Penny, as well as thousands upon thousands of DeGeneres fans, stuck by Ellen—good on them—and the moms slunk back into their own closets.

One Million Moms was sired by the American Family Association, a rabidly anti-gay organization which claims to promote conservative Christian values such as opposition to same-sex marriage, pornography, and abortion The AFA has an annual budget of $14 million US, and owns 180 American Family Radio stations in 28 states.

AFA spokesman Steve Ensley is on record as saying, “We want to outlaw public homosexuality…We believe homosexuality is immoral and leads ultimately to personal and social decay.” In May 2010 Bryan Fischer, the AFA’s director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy, detailed on the AFA website allegations that Adolf Hitler was a homosexual, and concluding that gay people in the military caused the Holocaust. Fischer has also said that Hitler’s savage and brutal methods were only possible because he and most of his storm troopers were gay.

Hateful nonsense such as that spewed by the AFA does not go unnoticed and in November 2010 the highly respected Southern Poverty Law Center labelled AFA a hate group, the same designation applied to the Ku Klux Klan, and neo-Nazi groups. Mark Potok of the SPLC said that the AFA’s “propagation of known falsehoods and demonizing propaganda” was the basis for the change.

Over the years the AFA has called for boycotts of everything from Archie Comics to the Walt Disney Company, and the association is no friend of fashion, having attacked Abercrombie & Fitch, Calvin Klein, Mary Kay, Old Navy, Procter & Gamble, Target, The Gap, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Urban Outfitters is likely not America’s favourite corporate citizen; the company seems to revel in controversy and the Outfitters don’t seem to care who they upset; however they’re being attacked because they published a photo of two people kissing…kissing, for the Goddess’s sake. I was raised to believe kissing was a good thing regardless of who was doing it, and I have not changed my mind. The only offensive and inappropriate aspect to this story is the reaction of the OMM, and their parent organization the AFA. Two young women kissing is not offensive, but inappropriate, irrational hatred for gays and lesbians is, and these so-called Christians should be ashamed of themselves for even implying that such an innocuous act as a kiss is somehow wrong. A kiss is just a kiss.

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Research: Angelina Pieros

Sources: American Family Association, Fashionista, Jezebel, One Million Moms, Southern Poverty Law Center, Urban Outfitters

Note: we have not provided links to the AFA or OMM because we will not knowingly provide links to hate groups.