Walmart "Stalking" T-shirt Angers Stalking Victim

A stalking victim that has found she has little legal recourse against her harasser due to North Carolina’s weak laws is angry at Walmart for selling a T-shirt that makes light of stalking.

The t-shirt reads: “Some call it stalking, I call it ‘love’.”

The Raleigh News&Observer says:

For the past two years, this woman has been stalked until she feels like a prisoner in her own life. She has been spied upon, bullied and threatened with her life.

She has been in frequent communication with local authorities. Yet, because North Carolina has one of the most vague stalking laws in the nation (a bill is wending its way through the legislature to address that), her recourse has been limited.

So when she saw the T-shirts, clearly aimed for the teen-younger adult set, she didn’t see the humor.

“It’s reprehensible,” said the woman, whose story is well documented but who asked not to be identified for fear that her stalker might retaliate.

“People don’t realize how serious stalking is,” she said. “You constantly live in fear, look over your shoulder and suffer from psychological and physical symptoms due to the stress of the stalker.”
She wondered aloud: What’s next?

“Some say it’s rape, I call it hot sex”? Or: “Some call it domestic violence, I say I’m just teaching her a lesson”?

Wow, that’s depressing. We feel really bad for this woman and hope North Carolina’s government wakes up and realizes that stalking is a crime…

…Then again, she should remember that she’s complaining about a t-shirt sold by an organization that was subject to an FBI investigation for (allegedly) wiretapping reporters. Now we understand. It was just love.

T-shirt isn’t funny to stalking victims [Raleigh News & Observer] (Thanks, David!)
(Photo:Raleigh News & Observer)

Comments

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  1. Televiper says:

    They’re gonna call it arson, I’m thinking of it as an old fashioned spiritual cleansing.

  2. faust1200 says:

    Some call it Retardville I call it Walmart.

  3. DwightIsMyCopilot says:

    Some call it boycotting, I just call it common sense.

  4. Televiper says:

    Actually, it’s really sad coming from an organization that censors a lot of the media content it sells. To Wal*Mart this T-shirt fits naturally with their patriarchal Christian views.

  5. JKinNYC says:

    WHAAAAAAAAAAAAA. Sorry lady, suck it up.

  6. LocutusZero says:

    OMG, those shirts that say “I hear voices” are offensive to those with mental disorders.
    How can anyone seriously be upset by this? It’s a dumb shirt.

  7. thepounder says:

    Apparently nobody told WalMart that only TShirtHell.com can sell shirts like that.

  8. ancientsociety says:

    *yawn*

    So just because you’re the victim of a stalker, no one in America should be able to make fun of stalking?

    When did America become filled with such entitled, whiny busybodies who think that their “right” not to be offended trumps everyone’s freedom of speech?

    [b]If you don’t like it, DON’T BUY IT.[/b]

  9. 12monkeys says:

    First amendment meet the Second amendment………….Buy a gun lady NC also has pretty good gun laws.

  10. mrmysterious says:

    This would be ok from T-Shirthell.com , but it’s pretty poor taste for Wal-Mart.

  11. no.no.notorious says:

    it’s a touchy issue for a corporation like walmart to be selling on a tshirt. consumers don’t expect this from walmart, but they do expect it from sites like tshirthell. you’re not buying milk, butter, and getting an oil change from tshirthell.

    …although that would be humorous.

  12. homerjay says:

    @ancientsociety: well put.

    That being said- WalMart still sucks ass.

  13. bohemian says:

    What is really sad and/or disgusting is that many stalkers SEE their behavior in a distorted way from their end. Some of these people see their behavior as normal pursuit of a relationship because they are that out of touch with reality.

    I’m sure most stalker types shop at Walmart anyway. Maybe this was just a way to put warning signs on the screwed up members of society. Or just typical Walmart patriarchal bullshit.

  14. Cheve says:

    Jesus….lighten up woman! so if you got your way, no simpsons, cuz they make fun of a lot of shit, same with south park, i could name a hundred, so if you were stalked, well you already went to court and lost, so just live with it…

  15. mrsultana can't get a password to work says:

    I was once assaulted by the wife of their heir to the throne of an European country. She humiliated me as well by pouring Minute Maid on my head. So, none of those prissy entitled women can wear “Princess” or “Juicy” anymore.

  16. oneswellfoop says:

    Anything funny or humorous generally makes light of someone else’s unfortunate situation. Get over it retard.
    Also, typically, states in the south allow you to shoot someone on your property or in your house who you believe is threatening your life. Buy a gun and shoot the guy next time he sets foot on your protery. In other words, do something about it, or STFU.

  17. Jay Levitt says:

    …then again, she should remember that humor often has – indeed, often is inspired by – a dark side, and that for every funny joke, there is someone for whom “that’s not funny.”

  18. EtherealStrife says:

    I call it funny. Rape and it would be poor taste, and over the top on Walmart’s part. But stalking…suck it up woman.

  19. Takkun says:

    I agree with the “Don’t like it, don’t buy it” sentiment. Lots of shirts exist, and somebody is bound to be offended by lots of them. Luckily, they have the option of not purchasing them.

  20. Buran says:

    She may not like it but it’s legal for the shirts to be sold under the First Amendment. You do not have the right to not be offended. I’ve seen things I don’t like much, myself, but I recognize that we must have the freedom of speech if we are going to preserve some semblance of the society our founders intended, and so I am willing to be offended from time to time because I feel that to be important.

    Too bad some people are too shortsighted to do the same and only think of themselves as they whine to the press — which is protected by the very same laws that protect those who make and sell such shirts.

  21. LTS! says:

    I think Televiper had a great point in pointing out Wal*Mart has a history of censorship but then sells something like this…

    As far as this lady is concerned, it’s too bad she’s being stalked, she should hire someone to resolve the situation since North Carolina apparently can’t help her. It’s a t-shirt, and to echo the above comments. Get over it, this country needs to lighten up a bit.

  22. Televiper says:

    @EtherealStrife: Stalking is extremely hostile and often ends in rape and/or murder. The people who would buy this T-shirt from a place like T-Shirt Hell would more than often have the sense not to wear in a place like Wal*Mart. What’s really said is Wal*Mart is the place that forces record companies to bleep out their albums and censor even lightly offensive material. Stalking is a serious social ill and this woman is having her life taken away because of it. She should NOT have to resort to murdering someone to live peaceful. The sick irony is her stalker probably justifies all his actions through believing it’s all out of love.

  23. thepounder says:

    @Televiper: Count me among those with a bit of sense about my rather large collection of shirts from TShirtHell. I reserve the extra rude shirts to wear to Austin on a Friday night, where they’ll be given the love and respect they so richly deserve. So, no, I won’t wear my White Flour shirt to the grocery store…

    That’s a very good point about the “sanitized” audio CD’s, but they’ll sell this shirt like they don’t understand how it may offend someone. WalMarx wants to Nanny, but apparently only just so much.

  24. rmuser says:

    Three words: Deal with it. Just because something offends you, it doesn’t give you the right to force your views on everyone else.

  25. MissM says:

    I don’t think one person’s sensitivity to an issue makes it “bad form” to joke about it. But, as other commenters have stated Walmart is known for censorship, among other things, that are “un-american” (imho). The Charlotte paper is the Charlotte Observer. The Raleigh paper is the News and Observer. Confusing but, I know how important the details are to readers of consumerist.com :)

  26. atalantapendragonne says:

    I agree that the woman in question has no right to expect to never be offended. The world is not her personal “safe space”. Her real complaint is with the local police and NC’s laws.

    I do also think it’s a tasteless shirt and not something I’d expect WalMart to carry. Are they actively going after the Hot Topic crowd now?

  27. Bourque77 says:

    Ah tell her to shut up. Some people have a different sense of humor than others. If someone finds that funny should they not be allowed to wear it because it offends someone? Come on I mean if we got rid of everything offensive what would we be left with? Im offended by assholes but I cant sue them for it.

  28. Jon Parker says:

    You people are just nuts or illiterate — I can’t decide which.

    The woman was disturbed by the shirt, so she complained. She didn’t file a lawsuit. Wal-Mart has the right to sell it, she has the right to complain about it. What’s the problem?

  29. spinachdip says:

    @Buran: Having the legal right to do something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea to, and the commenters who say “Shop somewhere else” are missing the point.

    I generally err on the side of the right to free expression and tastelessness because I’m a fan of free expression and tasteless humor. But as other commenters have noted, Wal-Mart, prides itself on squeaky clean, and is not shy about taking objectional music and magazines off the shelves.

    So either Wal-Mart isn’t serious about upholding its values or it thinks the callous view of stalking (and by extension, domestic violence) is perfectly within its wholesome value set.

    This isn’t so much about right or wrong, as it is about how Wal-Mart wants to be perceived, and the disconnect between their wholesome image and reality.

  30. Buran says:

    @spinachdip: Or maybe it just doesn’t agree that the people who are complaining have it right. Much as we may not like Wal-Mart as a collective here, but that’s their right.

    So yes, the people who say “shop elsewhere” do have it right.

  31. Buran says:

    @Jon Parker: Who likes an annoying whiner?

  32. CumaeanSibyl says:

    If WalMart is trying to position itself as a wholesome do-gooder family-oriented kind of store, their selling this shirt is an unbelievably stupid idea and they should be grateful to this woman for pointing it out.

  33. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @Buran: My mom likes me…

  34. spinachdip says:

    Let me see if I can explain this better:

    I think most reasonable can agree that the shirt is, if not offensive, at least in poor taste. Which is fine, I say a lot of tasteless shit when I’m in appropriate company. But one thing is clear – the shirt is funny precisely because it’s tasteless. In short, it’s designed to offend, and it would be disingenuous to argue otherwise.

    I think most reasonable people can also agree that Wal-Mart projects a wholesome image, and it makes a point of sanitizing music and covering up magazine covers. Wal-Mart has gone out of way to position itself as a place where families can shop without finding anything that’s remotely objectionable.

    Now, “wholesome” and “tasteless” are inherently incompatible. So the question is no longer about where this lady should shop for unhealthily underpriced goods, but what exactly Wal-Mart’s values are, and what our expectations should be.

  35. So, I take it she’s not a “Something About Mary” fan.

  36. cindel says:

    What is the difference between this and the Nazi shirts?

    Kmart had a shirt that made fun of domestic violence and that was taken off the shelves; so why not this?

  37. priznat says:

    Damn, that shirt will go perfectly with my “Pobody’s Nerfect” trucker hat!

  38. SaveMeJeebus says:

    It’s only stalking once you cross state lines. Some people need to just lighten up =)

    Anyhoo, it does seem hypocritical for a so-called socially conscious retailer to sell this, yet carry censored music that has similar messages. Then again, it does seem like there are merchandise buyers within the company that aren’t communicating.

  39. Shadowfire says:

    @cindel: Because people who take these things seriously are stupid, and they themselves should not be taken seriously. That is all.

  40. @Televiper: It wouldn’t be murder, it’d be self-defense. While I agree she shouldn’t have to kill anybody I hope that doesn’t stop her from arming herself because it sounds like she might have to stop him herself. (Maybe the stalkers getting killed will make them change the laws since the stalking victims getting killed isn’t enough motivation.)

    As for the t-shirt it’s out of line for Wal-mart but in general isn’t as bad as other t-shirts.

    “Some say it’s rape, I call it hot sex”? Or: “Some call it domestic violence, I say I’m just teaching her a lesson”?

    We make fun of people who die in stupid ways and award them for taking themselves out of the gene pool. If the Darwin Awards people can publish books making fun of specific people because of how died you aren’t going to stop anyone from making jokes about rape and domestic violence.

  41. spinachdip says:

    @Shadowfire: People who call people with different priorities stupid are stupider.

    Besides, the true issue with the Nazi shirts isn’t whether it’s offensive or not. Once Wal-Mart agreed that they were in poor taste and promised that they’d be taken off the shelves, that became a moot point. The problem was that they didn’t follow through on their promise.

    That tells us that
    a) Wal-Mart corporate are a bunch of liars who don’t do what they promise to do
    and/or
    b) Wal-Mart corporate has so little institutional control that they can’t even get a simple instruction out to stores, and makes you wonder if they can get recalled products off the shelves in a timely manner

    Either way, it affects all Wal-Mart shoppers.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Some call it a joke, others call it… not a joke.

  43. LikwidFlux says:

    Listen guys, I recently had someone send me a very rude e-mail, now I must insist you all stop using the internet. If people really knew how dangerous and threatening the internet can be they’d all stop. I can’t believe the public media let’s companies ADVERTISE internet service……… get over it people.

  44. Sidecutter says:

    Some call it an untimely demise at one’s own hand. I call it natural selection.

  45. Trai_Dep says:

    I firmly wish it noted in the permanent record that this person is from the South, not California.

    Thank you.

  46. Schminteresting says:

    I’m offended by people who get offended.

  47. Mr. Cynical says:

    Uh yeah let us ban everything that may offend even one person in the world. That would be a fun way to live life- let’s just ban EVERYTHING.

    Just because YOU don’t find it funny, doesn’t mean everyone else should suffer.

    Go WalMart (never thought I’d say that).

  48. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    Guys, I have to say that I’m really disturbed by a lot of the comments on this thread. Fortunately a few people who have common sense have flagged some of the more egregious comments.

    Stalking is not some sort of innocent, harmless thing — and when it escalates to violent and deadly behavior, people ask, “Why didn’t anyone do anything about [the stalker] before things got out of hand?” This woman spoke up, and many of you guys are castigating her for that.

    I’m disappointed in the cavalier attitudes I’m seeing about the issue, and I’m horrified at the number of people who tell her to “suck it up.”

    If I went with my gut and swung the banhammer at those comments, many of the people on this thread would be gone.

  49. royal72 says:

    meg you sick puppy, i can hear you chuckling as you’re posting…

    “the walmart nazi shirt 2: this time it’s personal”

  50. royal72 says:

    @Consumerist Moderator – ACAMBRAS: “Guys, I have to say that I’m really disturbed by a lot of the comments… Stalking is not some sort of innocent, harmless thing… number of people who tell her to suck it up…”

    think you missed the point. people’s comments are simply the equal and opposite reaction to her action.

  51. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @royal72:
    Can you elaborate?

  52. EtherealStrife says:

    @Consumerist Moderator – ACAMBRAS: That’s your opinion. Moderating is about removing material offensive to everyone, not just you. Kinda like walmart t-shirts. Everybody hates nazis (except maybe nazis). But people other than stalkers find this t-shirt amusing. As such, it should be up to the market to decide. Not every person who dislikes the message.

    @Televiper: References please.

    @thepounder: Now that I can agree with. The walmart t-shirts are often right on the edge, which is an interesting contrast with the otherwise nanny-style management. Consistency would be nice.

  53. sciencegeek says:

    I think that the woman may be doing this for two reasons: one, to draw attention to the weak stalking laws in her state, and two, because she’s genuinely living in hell and this doesn’t help.

    While I agree with the comments about free speech, there is a difference between what the law allows you to do and what the whole “do unto others” thing suggests you do. If you knew this woman, would you wear the shirt when you were going to hang out with her? I guess it is situational.

  54. @royal72: Her action of trying to get this guy to stop stalking her or her action of complaining to Wal-mart about the t-shirt?

  55. But people other than stalkers find this t-shirt amusing.

    @EtherealStrife: Acambras was refering to the people saying she should “get over” being stalked, not the t-shirt. See Cheve‘s post. It’s one thing to say someone should get over a t-shirt, it’s another to say this woman should just live with being stalked.

  56. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @EtherealStrife:

    I’ve gotten quite a few flagged comment reports about this thread. Believe me — I’m not the only one who finds the shirt and many of the comments on this thread offensive.

  57. othium says:

    In my prsonal experience, I try to get my shopping done in as little time as I can so that I can have more time to enjoy activities with friends and family. I can’t imagine spending more than 10 seconds being offended by a T-Shirt at a store. Life is too short to be wasted on small offenses like these. It’s none of my business how this store sells products. If I don’t like it, I won’t buy it. If a product doesn’t sell, it will probably not be manufactured in large quantities or restocked. Kind of common sense stuff.

    I’ll save my indignation for other more important things.

    Like commenting on silly issues on the internet.

  58. drjayphd says:

    @mrsultana: How you say… +1?

  59. royal72 says:

    @Consumerist Moderator – ACAMBRAS: “Can you elaborate?”

    yes the stalking is terrible and more so, that she can’t seem to get the help from the authorities that she needs :( but trying to get rid of a crappy shirt for being in bad taste, just like the nazi one, is ridiculous and subjectable… let me put it this way, if i see someone wearing that shirt, i’m staying the fuck away from them and mentally thanking them for the visual warning me.

  60. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @royal72:
    So when you say people’s comments are the equal but opposite reaction to her reaction, I’m still not sure what you mean.

    I understand that whether or not one is offended by the shirts is a bit subjective — indeed, people who’ve been stalked or seen loved ones stalked probably don’t think the shirt is funny.

    She spoke out to WalMart about the shirt because it made a joke out of a serious issue, but it seems like a lot of the commenters on the thread have a problem with that (telling her to “get over it,” for example). Does she not have the right to be offended and speak up on the matter? It’s almost like some commenters find her speaking out on the matter *offensive*. Is that what you mean by equal but opposite reaction?

  61. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @sciencegeek: Yeah, it’s a pretty brilliant PR move on her part. Nobody’s going to do a report on a woman who’s complaining about insufficient police response to a dangerous person, but a woman complaining about WalMart — that’s ratings gold.

    Which is really, really sad, when you think about it.

  62. saythisword says:

    Acambras, THANK YOU.

    This is barely even a consumer issue– this is a wider issue in our
    culture, where a woman who is being stalked by a psycho is now being
    mocked on a message board by people who refuse to accept that her
    problem is pandemic in this country, and the shirt is just an extension
    of that culture. It’s disappointing to see how many people here would
    rather ignore the really ugly implications of this story.

  63. royal72 says:

    @Consumerist Moderator – ACAMBRAS: dear acambras, i’m having a very hard time with your avatar. you see, my parents and i were at the zoo when i was a child and somehow the lion had gotten out his cage. to make a long and uncomfortable story short, my dad had just enough time to help push me over a fence, as i watched the lion’s teeth sink into his flesh. i watched my parents be mauled to death, before anyone could help…

    so as you can see, cats in general are a subject i’m not comfortable with and a great many other people feel the same way. so i would greatly appreciate it, if you would remove your avatar.
    royal72

  64. royal72 says:

    @Consumerist Moderator – ACAMBRAS: She spoke out to WalMart about the shirt because it made a joke out of a serious issue
    … that’s a matter of perspective and/or taste and up to the indivual.

    but it seems like a lot of the commenters on the thread have a problem with that (telling her to “get over it,” for example). Does she not have the right to be offended and speak up on the matter?
    …of course and that’s the whole point.

    It’s almost like some commenters find her speaking out on the matter *offensive*. Is that what you mean by equal but opposite reaction?
    …bingo. just as she has the right to speak her mind about being offended, so does everyone else.

    what’s more important to me, is to change why everyone is so pissed and offended by everything? most people are so busy complaining about anything and everything, that the “pursuit of happiness” has long come and gone for them.

  65. @royal72:

    There’s nothing wrong with her icon! You are a whiny entitled baby! So your parents were mauled to death, you should get over it!

    ^equal and opposite reaction.

    Did I get that right?

  66. royal72 says:
  67. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:
  68. royal72 says:
  69. thalia says:

    I can see it now…one day, a hundred years from now, making light of anything will be punishable by death. Even if you laugh at your own misfortunes! DEATH! Your friend squirted milk out his nose and you giggled. DEATH! I once had a moose who squirted milk from his nose and he ended up with a serious infection! SRSLY BUSINESS!

    Seriously though, sucks for the woman getting stalked, but everyone makes fun of stalkers. I mean, child molesting is awful, but seeing an old rusty van with a sign saying ‘free candy’ still makes me laugh.

  70. perfectly_cromulent says:

    very bad by wal-mart.

    and a “shame on you” to those saying she should just get over it. most of the time serious stalking leads to attacks and rape; what is so wrong about her trying to get the message out that this is much more serious that people think?

  71. perfectly_cromulent says:

    oh and i have to agree with what someone said earlier…why does everyone seem so offended that she’s standing up for something she believes in?

  72. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @royal72:
    ;-)

    @perfectly_cromulent:
    why does everyone seem so offended that she’s standing up for something she believes in?
    Yep, that seems to be the million-dollar question on this thread.

  73. Anonymous says:

    First off, stalking does not have to happen when someone is crossing state lines, the definition of stalking is:Stalking a legal term for repeated harassment or other forms of invasion of a person’s privacy in a manner that causes fear to its target.

    Statutes vary between jurisdiction but may include such acts as:

    repeated physical following
    unwanted contact (by letter or other means of communication)
    observing a person’s actions closely for an extended period of time
    contacting family members, friends, or associates inappropriately
    Stalking can also include seeking and obtaining the person’s personal information in order to contact them; e.g. looking for their details on computers, electoral rolls, personal files and other material with the person’s personal details without their consent. Personal details include their date of birth, marital status, home address, email address, telephone number (landline and mobile), where they work, or which school, college or university they go to; and personal information on their family and friends and any other sensitive and confidential information (e.g. medical conditions and disabilities etc.)

    This woman is probably going thru hell with her stalking and to go in to a store and have a shirt make light of it, as well as a state that does not have substantial laws backing her does not help.

    I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they should also be educated in what they are discussing.