Web Wednesday: To Print or Not To Print

The headline reads:  “This Guy Cited His Christian Faith in Refusing to Make T-Shirts Advertising a Gay Pride Parade — and Now His Company Is Being Punished”

You can read the article here.

I have little interest in the specifics of this story but it did make me think of the inevitable point in every screen-printer’s career when the content of a print, whether it be the copy or graphic, may violate one’s conscience (or at least make you a little bit uncomfortable to print.)

In this post I am of course speaking from a business owner’s perspective rather than an individual printer’s perspective (side note, years ago I had an employee refuse to print a job due to the “graphic” nature of a print, though I think the guy was just trying to get out of working) and furthermore, I am speaking as a contract printer, which really complicates things because you have little or no interaction with the end-user customer.  That said, every print shop owner will have to “draw a line” based on their personal ethics/morals/opinions and additionally should take into account the impact on their staff, customers, vendors whom will be handling or viewing the potentially offensive prints.  To be completely honest, the line that I have drawn has been pretty vague and thus difficult to cross (remember, we work with music merchandisers and street-wear lines) with exception to the obvious examples, ie: racism/hate, pornography.  And because we don’t have a clearly documented policy on this matter I’ve definitely had to question myself on a few print jobs over the years.  My advice to you (and myself) is to create and publish a written policy…

A few considerations when crafting your policy:

– Do you simply draw the line at clearly and objectively offensive, ie: racism, hate, pornography, etc?

– Do you draw the line at subjectively offensive, ie: strong political statements, four-letter-words, lewd phrases, etc?

– How much should your personal views and opinions affect the policy?

– Do you include all or some staff members in this process?

– What are the potential economic ramifications of implementing the policy?


Your policy may not be agreeable to all, it may even offend, but it will define your “line” to customers, employees, and vendors alike.




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