In Flanders Fields, the profits grow?
Via Accordion Guy comes the news from Colby Cosh that Pierre Bourque has discovered that the Royal Canadian Legion owns the trademark on the familiar red plastic poppy and have forbidden unauthorized posting of its image online. Like this:
They hate that. And in turn, all of the above hate them hating that. The Legion claims that if it doesn’t protect the image, it could be co-opted by pretty much anyone. Messrs. de Villa, Cosh, and Bourque wonder: What’s wrong with that? Shouldn’t anyone who wants to commemorate the gallant sacrifice made by our nation’s war dead be encouraged to proudly display this symbol? It shouldn’t be anyone’s property, they argue. And it’s hard to disagree.
It is the Royal Canadian Legion that has co-opted this symbol, argues Cosh, who has vowed never to pay for or wear the Legion’s precious intellectual property again. De Villa also finds this appropration inappropriate, and seconds his vow. Bourque ponders promoting the Royal British Legion’s poppy at the expense of the Canadian one, as the former group actively encourages posting of its poppy.
There is another option, though: the white poppy, which has been promoted in the UK by the Peace Pledge Union and other groups since 1933 as an alternative to the red one. I’m not sure the PPU promotes careful spelling or website building; check out the rollover on the link to the white poppy page from its index page. But as a pacifist organization, it has a worthy goal: finding an alternative to war. Although the organizers of white poppy campaigns have long been careful to establish that they do not intend to denigrate the sacrifice of the dead, they’ve long been opposed by the Legion, which charges that they do just that. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Legion’s trademark on the poppy in fact had something to do with trying to quash the white poppy campaign.
But white poppy campaigns are still going, and if you happen to be able to get your hands on one, it might be an appropriate statement to make if you’re against the commodification of the red poppy, not to mention war in general, such as the one of dubious merit that still seems to be going on in the Middle East.
Me, I’ll take whatever poppy offers me a safety pin instead of a straight one, since it’s fair to say I’ve spilled more blood trying to put on and wear conventional poppies than was spilled on all the battlefields of Europe during the conflicts of the last century. But I thought you might want to know your options.
(If anyone puts out a poppy dedicated to eliminating The War at Home, starring Michael Rapaport, I’ll take one of those too.)
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