A Minnesota man who sells T-shirts that poke fun at Hillary Clinton is in the middle of a free speech debate. Again.
Minnesota designer Dan McCall sells an array of political novelties, including shirts that read: "I'm ready for Oligarchy:"
The images are a spoof of the "Ready for Hillary" merchandise sold by the political action committee that backs the former first lady and secretary of state in a potential presidential campaign:
The Ready for Hillary PAC ordered two online sales sites, Zazzle.com and CafePress.com, to take McCall's merchandise down, reports The Hill, a Washington newspaper.
But another group, Public Citizen, has leapt to McCall's defense, noting that he is within his constitutional right to mock the Hillary PAC. Public Citizen lawyer Jim Lamb this week fired off a letter to the PAC's lawyers, noting that McCall's merchandise is "plainly parody."
"Nobody could possibly look at McCall's design and think that it is sponsored by your committee or, indeed, by its candidate, so there is no actionable likelihood of confusion," Lamb notes.
Public Citizen earlier this year won a similar battle on McCall's behalf. McCall produced a line of mugs, hats and shirts that mocked two government agencies, including merchandise that uses the National Security Agency logo, but with the motto: "Spying On You Since 1952." Other merchandise takes aim at the "Department of Homeland Stupidity."
The two agencies had argued that the merchandise violated special legal protections for the agencies' official seals, but both agencies ultimately withdrew their cease-and-desist order.
McCall offers his take on the latest controversy in a blog post this week, writing, "So to Ready for Hillary PAC, or whomever else wants to get in line to challenge free speech with cowardly legal tricks I say this, bring it on. The joke will be on you."
The self-employed artist and 2001 graduate of St. Cloud State University told the St. Cloud Times that the Ready for Hillary PAC challenge was "bizarre."
"We just found out about this within the last week, and it's kind of like deja vu all over again. At least the federal government isn't in this one," he told the newspaper.
Clinton said in a new interview this week that she likely would not make an announcement about a potential campaign until next year.