Violence in vogue on bags, T-shirts

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Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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In 2005, musician Carlos Santana wore a Che Guevara shirt to the Oscars. Cuban-Americans once again demonstrated their frustration, organizing a candlelight vigil for Mr. Guevara’s victims outside of a Santana concert in Miami.

In late December of last year, discount superstore Target was forced to pull CD carrying cases featuring Mr. Guevara’s image from the shelves and issue a statement of apology.

“Is it in good taste and appropriate to wear mass murderers on your clothing?” Professor Thompson said. “Probably not. On the other hand, I don’t think that necessarily means we should be calling for the banning of these things.”

He suggests that people who wear clothing depicting criminals probably do so with a hint of irony or dark humor. “It’s more likely the same kind of tongue in cheek attitude that causes a person in the 21st century to buy a lava lamp,” he says.

Imosh sales manager David Charles doesn’t seem so sure that his customers wear Charles Manson apparel with any irony. He says that Imosh operates out of a “hidden office,” selling merchandise over the Web rather than out of an actual storefront.

“I don’t want any of those psychos coming to find me,” he explains.

“People don’t think of the horrors of Stalinism today when they wear a hammer and sickle. In a way, it’s appalling.”

—author Trisha Ziff

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