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Just a couple of days before Christmas, the drama exploded! I found out that there were some cards being sold in a specific store on Etsy, that I felt violated the terms of use that all stores on Etsy must agree to. The ones that I personally felt were a violation offered congrats for having a down syndrome child and on being raped.  I reported the cards and emailed Etsy about them. In return I was sent a standardized response complete with being addressed to “Jennifer”. The response basically told me that while I might be offended by the cards, we must not interfere with freedom of artistic expression. End of story. I then responded again citing how and why I felt these cards went against the terms of use and never received a response. I did receive a response, also standardized, to the report of the items within the store saying that they would take a closer look and would deal with it privately. The cards remained. I would have accepted this and simply closed my store as my own personal choice as I acknowledge that these cards walked a fine line, but I still wanted a least some response as Etsy’s commitment is that “real people will respond to your issue”. Any thread started on Etsy about this issue was promptly closed if it protested the cards and I decided to try their facebook page. There was a notice at the top about the negative comments they had been getting and a reminder to email as this was the proper route and again that “real people would respond” and multiple posts by admin on how great Etsy was for caring for and encouraging others. I made a respectful comment saying I was getting no response back through emails and that I would like one. No negativity toward Etsy or mention of the cards or store. My comment was immediately removed and I was blocked. I was allowed to rejoin later but not allowed to comment. Others told me that they experienced the same thing and I saw it mentioned elsewhere by people who were also blocked. It appeared on their page that only a few people were taking exception to these cards and their violations. Those few people were mocked and insulted, told that the cards were funny, to get a sense of humor, to take some valium; unfortunately some of them responded back in similar fashion. On both Etsy threads and the facebook page there was a lot of talk about freedom of speech and expression and demonstration of it with hurling of insults towards those who had complained or dared try to assert that this was not “freedom”. And yet my freedom to respectfully voice my thoughts was denied even when I was careful not to go against the terms of use that I agreed to. I have no idea really how many people (although it was far more than Etsy allowed to appear), including Etsy store owners, felt these cards were a violation, but what I do know is that over the last days, the fuss has died down. The cards remain, although the one advocating rape no longer uses the word rape, and it appears that Etsy’s stance is supported by its artistic community and those who purchase from it.  There were many comments about people making a fuss about something so small and that we should be focusing actually helping people in need or stopping atrocities in the world. There were threads on Etsy with people concerned that they were going to lose business and the general response was that only a very few people were being overly sensitive and thin-skinned, that the desire for products would win, and it would blow over and people would continue buying…no big deal.  Or sure they were offensive, went against the terms of use that we agreed to, but not worth losing business over.  Truly it makes me pretty sad, sad to see that even in this handmade,  artistic, home business culture that the bottom line wins out. If I had been able to respond, I would have liked to say that not speaking out against hatred (in “humorous” form) and injustice is what has allowed most of the atrocities that we see today and in the past.  I would have said that the horrible cleansings and ridding society of people who are different doesn’t ever happen because of one person. That freedom of speech and expression goes both ways. That I am one of those women trying to earn some money while being at home with my daughters.  That I will lose money each month that helped pay bills.  If that is what taking a stand means, so be it. I can’t do much but my ethics, morals, call them what you will, demand that I take my small stances despite what it could cost.

So where does this leave the humble little shop, ChickadeeSwing? I’m not sure. My rate of inquiries and sales was steadily increasing and I was starting to feel overwhelmed and having to say no. I wasn’t going to get rich and before this whole fiasco had decided to take some time to evaluate after Christmas. But I know that alot of my increase was because I was on Etsy. I also know that my store is closed and will remain closed.  We have been looking into starting my own online store, somehow linking it to my blog, but that is kind of complicated and we aren’t sure that it is worth it.  I don’t really want to say “okay, Etsy, you win” either though and it is nice to make that little extra each month if we can figure it out.  Truly though, I have enjoyed these past weeks of creating what I want to without any pressure. It’s been fun trying new things and making gifts for others.  So I don’t know, hopefully in the next week or two I will have some kind of plan.

I would love to hear any suggestions! And thanks to anyone who read this my longest blog yet. It felt good to get it off of my chest and now maybe I won’t wake up in the wee hours thinking about it with ever increasing heart rate.

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