If you were to meet 3-year-old Salem, you might get the picture that she hates the cops. After all, her t-shirt contains the words “f–k the police.” Except that there’s a bit more to this story than meets the eye.
Last month Salem’s mother, Kelsey Dawn Williamson, 23, ordered a Frog and Toad-themed t-shirt from AliExpress, an online retail store that sells and distributes cheap goods from China, Singapore and a few other Asian nations.
Frog and Toad are characters from deceased children’s author Arnold Lobel’s eponymously named “Frog and Toad” series.
This is how the shirt was advertised on AliExpress:
Nothing offensive about that? But that wasn’t what showed up at Williamson’s doorstep this past Tuesday.
“I literally did not know how to react so I just took a few moments to stare at it and try to process,” Williamson said to BuzzFeed News. “Of all the things they could have added, why that? On a children’s-size shirt?”
Look at the shirt below (*LANGUAGE WARNING):
What I ordered VS what I received.
I fucking love China. I cannot stop screaming. WHO DOES THIS.
Editing because I’ve…
Posted by Kelsey Dawn Williamson on Tuesday, May 28, 2019
So how did this happen? The problem is that, besides being characters from Lobel’s books, Frog and Toad are also memes. And as you no doubt know, memes are uber popular at the moment. In fact, even President Donald Trump likes them.
According to the Know Your Meme wiki, the Frog and Toad memeing started in 2010, when someone on the Internet posted a photoshopped version of of a “Frog and Toad” book cover with the words “f–k the police” underneath. Three years later the meme went viral, sparking the creation of thousands of additional “Frog and Toad” memes.
My brothers were writing mini Frog and Toad funnies to go along with images on a Facebook post…and this meme was born.
My siblings and I, we’re all weird little dorks. pic.twitter.com/eGaMPfLzw5
— EchoSilverWolf? (@EastWindEchoes) January 14, 2019
Are Frog and toad memes worth investing in. pic.twitter.com/Fw3zX4Gz8c
— Memes Bot (@theMemesBot) May 1, 2017
Frog and Toad memes? Safe to invest? pic.twitter.com/98G8guRnqs
— Memes Bot (@theMemesBot) April 19, 2017
— Summer time, Flores. (@mrjoshflores) November 22, 2013
You get the picture.
Long story short, for some inexplicable reason the company that produced Salem’s shirt thought it would be prudent to pay tribute to the meme that started the memeing. And that’s fine. But it would have been nice if AliExpress wouldn’t have been so deceptive, not that Williamson and her husband seem to mind.
She told BuzzFeed that after the shirt arrived, she called her husband and both of them “just screamed together” in laughter.
“We both just lost it, dying of laughter. All he could say was ‘Oh shit,'” she said.
The duo liked the shirt so much, it would appear, that they allowed Salem to wear it — to be clear, she doesn’t know what the words on it mean — and pose for a picture. This has, in turn, rubbed some people the wrong way.
Why? For one, the t-shirt is disrespectful to the men and women in blue who place their lives at risk everyday to protect the American people:
Apparently the Mom wasn’t horrified enough to not only photo her child in it, but to laugh at it. This is disgusting & I hope she gets whats coming to her. #BlueLivesMatter #ThinBlueLinehttps://t.co/HT8EsGhj52
— ❌⚓️USNavy_Veteran⚓️❌ (@Veteran_USN) May 31, 2019
It saddens me that anyone would delight in profanity and the endorsement of disrespect to our heroes who fight on the frontline in the US on a toddler’s t shirt. This isn’t funny, it’s our downfall in front of our eyes.
— Nuggets of Wisdom (@poetry_in_art) May 31, 2019
My son is a policeman. Every day risks his life for little girls like her. This is shameful; not in the least hilarious.
— kay farish (@FarishKay) May 30, 2019
Do you agree with the message on the shirt? If you do: Next time you need a cop…call a f*ckin’ electrician.
— Allen T (@LgStrigiformes) May 30, 2019
This is NOT funny. The police put their lives on the line every single day. The least you can do is teach your children to respect the badge.
— Wildomar999 (@Wildomar9991) May 31, 2019
And two, perhaps a child shouldn’t wear such a shirt?
Letting your kid wear it is NOT hilarious.
— LeroyXII (@LeroyXII) May 30, 2019
Hilarious is “like totally” the word I was searching for.
So “like totally” “woke” to have a 2 yr old cursing law enforcement.
— Tider’98 (@98Tider) May 31, 2019
Why would anyone put that shirt on their child?
Burn it! Make a rag with it. Wash the car with that nonsense.
— clangley (@txag7676) May 30, 2019
That’s not funny. Why on earth would a responsible parent ever – ever! – put that shirt on a child?
— Daveeoeo (@daveeoeo) May 31, 2019
Both sets of critics had valid points. However, some critics took things too far.
“People were actually messaging me just to say mean things about her. A ton of people calling her fat, asking me what I feed her to make her so big, telling me the shirt I bought was too small,” Williamson explained to BuzzFeed.
Mocking a child for her weight is not cool.
“It’s been so ridiculous,” she added in a statement to Kidspot about the criticism and harassment. “The tears were flowing last night. I almost even deleted it, I just wanted it to stop.”
“I still see mean comments occasionally but it’s gotten easier to just ignore it. But nothing will stop me from putting the shirt straight to Salem’s baby box with all of her other important items!”
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