Legal Battle over an Anti-War T-Shirt An Oklahoma woman is trying to stop an Arizona shirt distributor from having the name of her dead son displayed on a T-shirt protesting the ongoing U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

Legal Battle over an Anti-War T-Shirt

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From NPR News This is DAY TO DAY.

An Oklahoma woman whose son died in Iraq wants his name off an anti-war t-shirt and she's enlisted the help of her congressman. Arizona Public Radio's Laurel Morales has the story.


The t-shirt reads Bush Lied They Died. The large red letters stand out on the black shirt. Behind the red type is a list in much smaller font of about 1700 U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq. Dan Frasier(ph) created the shirt.

Mr. DAN FRASIER (T-Shirt Creator): The whole point was to draw attention to the horrific toll that the war was taking on these young people.

MORALES: The Arizona businessman sells liberal bumper stickers and t-shirts online. He says this project was especially important to him.

Mr. FRASIER: I think it's easy to sort of become numb to the reality of what's going on in Iraq, and it's hard to put your mind around statistics, around numbers, especially as they grow bigger and bigger. And so I wanted to try to illustrate that somehow.

MORALES: He says he's almost sold out of the shirts. Judy Vincent wasn't one of the buyers. Vincent's son, Scott, was killed by a suicide bomber in Fallujah two years ago. She discovered Frasier's website when she was surfing the Internet for soldier memorial websites. She was appalled.

Ms. JUDY VINCENT (Mother of Slain Soldier): It's very offensive to somebody that has lost a child to see the shirt that says Bush Lied They Died. We live with that daily. We don't - we don't need to see reminders of it.

MORALES: Vincent the only parent who lost a child in Iraq to complain. But she took things a step further. Earlier this year Vincent persuaded Oklahoma legislators to pass a law making it a misdemeanor to use a soldier's name or likeness without permission. Louisiana signed a similar bill into law. But neither law will affect Frasier, who lives in Arizona. So Vincent went to her congressman, Dan Boren. He's introduced a bill to federal lawmakers.

Representative DAN BOREN (Democrat, Oklahoma): Basically what the bill will do, it will stop people from profiteering off of the lives of our soldiers. When you're not seeking permission of the family of someone who has gone and sacrificed for us to have the freedoms that we have, it's disgusting, frankly.

MORALES: T-shirt creator Dan Frasier says he's not profiteering. In fact, he says, he's losing money on the project because of the design cost. He argues what he is doing is exercising one of those freedoms soldiers are fighting for.

Mr. FRAZIER: I have a constitutionally protected right to free speech, which enables me to express my view, my concern, this way. And I don't want to just gave that up. So I have no plans at this point to discontinue selling the products under pressure.

MORALES: Boren argues this has nothing to do with free speech.

Mr. BOREN: You can support the war, you can be against the war, and you can put that on a t-shirt, that's fine. But when you use someone's name without their permission, especially a name of someone who's served in combat for us to have these freedoms, without any permission, is inherently wrong.

MORALES: Wrong or right, Frasier is still selling the t-shirts. He's even offering a discount. But, he says, now the shirts are outdated. The t-shirt list 1700 U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq. That total is now more than 2500.

For NPR News I'm Laurel Morales in Flagstaff.

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