Seasalt and Co. is a Florida-based company that creates custom Photoshop tool packages for graphic designers. That should be a relatively controversy-free business, but yesterday the company took to Facebook to announce an upcoming package of tools. It's called "The Hanging Tree" and was advertised with a chilling image of a noose dangling from a tree.
Twitter outrage followed swiftly, but the company is not apologizing for offending anyone. Not even close.
Given the history of nooses in the South being used to kill and terrorize African-Americans, this particular package theme might have been a poor choice.
Let's be clear about what @seasaltcompany is doing: using images of mass murder and terrorism to sell mediocre graphic design services.
— r. (@Are0h) February 16, 2015
— Nessa. (@curlyheadRED) February 16, 2015
— John V. Moore (@johnvmoore) February 16, 2015
The more I see that foul image from @seasaltcompany, the angrier I get. It's not art. It's the willful ignorance of evil. Disgusting.
— ann daramola (@afrolicious) February 16, 2015
If it was a swastika or a gas chamber in your ad you'd be shut down ASAP but a noose from a tree is ok? NAH. @seasaltcompany
— Rachel Stewart (@RStewartJewelry) February 16, 2015
However, Seasalt apparently hasn't taken the course How to Avoid Internet Controversy 101. The firm doubled down on its use of the imagery, hitting back at critics in an explanation on Facebook.
Those with concerns about a product of ours, should take proper measures to support their claims. This certain product is not meant to offend anyone nor directed towards any persons, nor has anything to do any certain race. Coming to this page or going to other outlets to express your emotions will not remedy a cure, but spread hate. We have not broken any rights any American has. If you feel your rights are being violated, please contact the civil rights department with your concerns. With or without ones support, we will continue to design our product as it was intend to be made. We are sorry for all those that feel offended, you're not required to agree with or purchase any of our products. There has been a huge misunderstanding what this product represents. We have given several attempts to explain what it is about and it has been apparent our efforts do not matter to those unwilling to make reason and listen. Our product is about having "freedom" not the act of causing anymore harm. We as a company are using our artistic freedom and expression to take a stand against hate and will continue to do so.
The company also tried to explain the controversy away in other Facebook comments:
Thank you for thinking outside the box on this. Being hung wasn't designed just for one race of people. There is a long standing history and more to what is being seen in this advertising image. IT represents so much more.
People can be offended by anything in life. However, nothing here depicts hate against anyone pr any color. We all have rights. In the art world, not everyone will like what you do. However, this collection depicts no violence towards anyone. We are aware some may take ii wrong, but we explained it and what it stands for. Had we put a person literally in the noose, then that may be different, but we wouldn't do that. I know of book covers and other pieces of art with the same sort of thing. Art is subjective and we know not everyone will like or agree.
The company has even threatened to take legal action against some Twitter users.
So be it. We are fully prepared for legal acton.
— Seasalt & Co. (@seasaltcompany) February 16, 2015
Update: A representative for Seasalt and Co refused to comment on the matter.
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