Home » Campus » Tweet, T-shirt generate controversy for OSU Turning Point, USG campaign

Tweet, T-shirt generate controversy for OSU Turning Point, USG campaign

College Democrats have condemned the T-shirt in question, on the right, as anti-LGBT. Credit: Screen grab via Twitter.

A tweet featuring a contentious T-shirt has generated controversy for one Undergraduate Student Government campaign and for the Ohio State chapter of Turning Point USA, a student organization with ties to the campaign.

The photo, posted to Twitter in December, depicts four men standing on a beach in the “O-H-I-O” raised-arms stance. The man on the far right — Matthew Kovar, a first-year in engineering — is wearing a shirt emblazoned with an altered version of the popular T-shirt image of Che Guevara, a drawing of an arm with a stereotypically gay limp wrist, complete with the phrase ‘Socialism Is For F*gs,’ with a drawn fig leaf replacing the third-letter.

Standing next to Kovar is Devin Bilski, a fourth-year in marketing and political science and campaign manager for Reagan and Reese Brooks, brothers running for USG president and vice president, respectively, and both third-years in marketing. Bilski is also the former president of the OSU chapter of TPUSA.

Angry comments started being tweeted at the feed of TPUSA’s OSU chapter Tuesday night after the picture resurfaced, followed  an apologetic post by the student organization.

“We apologize to those who found the shirt offensive,” the post stated. “The actual saying on the shirt is ‘Socialism is for Figs,’ but it is challenging to read in the picture. This does not by any means represent Turning Point beliefs, and the tweet has been removed due to the appearance of an inappropriate slur. We offer our sincerest apologies for those offended by the shirt, we truly did not even notice how the shirt appeared when the picture was posted and as soon as it was brought to our attention the picture was removed.”

The shirt is not listed for sale on TPUSA’s national website, but appears to have originated from the right-leaning website Louder with Crowder.

Bilski said the T-shirt went unnoticed when the picture was taken.

“I didn’t even realize that shirt was in the photo until it was posted,” he told The Lantern. “I knew the man was in the photo, but I didn’t recognize the shirt he was wearing.”

Kovar said he wore the shirt as a statement against socialism and nothing more.

“The shirt I was wearing was in reference to the violent socialist Che Guevara’s capture and execution in La Higuera, Bolivia, which means ‘The Fig Tree’ in Spanish,” he said. “It was in no way a slur toward the LGBT community and I apologize if that’s how the shirt came off.”

Speaking as the campaign manager, Bilski said the Brooks brothers’ campaign had no comment.

“The Brooks brothers were not present for any of these incidents,” Bilski said.

The brothers did not respond to a request for comment made to them directly via email.

Jake Vasilj, a third-year in political science and president of the College Democrats, said the incident confirms his organization’s opposition to TPUSA, calling the shirt “designed to be offensive.” The College Democrats’ stance led to the College Democrats declining to invite the brothers’ campaign to a town-hall style forum featuring the other three campaigns, held last week.

“The Brooks brothers have continually tried to position themselves as being moderates, as being socially liberal, and clearly these are values that the fact that their campaign manager seems OK posing for a picture with this shirt doesn’t tell us that’s very inclusive or socially liberal in any way,” Vasil told The Lantern. “So, we condemn that wholeheartedly.”

13 comments

  1. Bottom Line…The shirt is funny. It doesn’t need to be condemned. It’s a take on an iconic Sean Penn movie quote. Is Sean Penn anti-LGBTQ? You have President Trump because Democrats ceased to be the adults in the room in an election against a child. You have 8 years of this if you keep it up.

  2. “Figs” is now a slur?

    [[This is why Trump won]]

  3. I would LOVE to know why, if it only means “figs,” it’s censored, Che had a limp wrist, and the site that sells the shirt says “don’t be a fig.” You can pretend you don’t get the joke, but that’s seems fundamentally dishonest to me. This deserves more than an “I’m sorry you were offended” apology; it’s a shirt that disparages LGBTQ people, straight-up, and if you aren’t homophobic, you need to prove it with your words and actions.

    • they are homophobic honestly they should just admit they hate gay people instead of hiding behind this ridiculously thin story. It’s not hard to believe that these people can’t read but even an illiterate and completely out of touch loser would know what the limp wrist means.

  4. Ridiculous as usual. The problem is not that people are homophobic. What is there to be afraid of? The problem is that while most do not hate LGBT they also can not be forced to accept and approve of their lifestyle. And that is the problem…the LGBT do not want just equality, they want acceptance by all…and you can not make that happen.

    • I don’t accept your unacceptance of the LGBT lifestyle, but I don’t hate you. I just think your lifestyle is ludicrous and indefensible.

  5. Is no one going to bring up that he had his t-shirt tucked into his shorts? I think that’s the real issue here.

  6. Phi and Brian, i agree with what you’re saying (Both the silliness of taking offense at the shirt as well as one of the reasons for the groundswell of support for Trump, from the angry voters that voted for him the first time around to those who saw him as a 17th option preferable to the lying senator from New York.). But on the flip side, beware that the same will happen to conservatives as a similar backlash answers Trump’s heavy handed approach.

  7. The entitled frat bros that typically run for USG embarrass the University.
    Who would have ever expected that?
    When are we going to get greeks off the campus and stop spending University funds to manage the risk of having them?

  8. Socialism has its merits as does capitalism. The limp-wrist schtick is a juvenile 6th grade mentality thing anyway and has no place in a college. Most gay people DONOT fit the common stereotypes you hear in elementary school. As for “accepting” LGBT people it’s a must too. I’m straight but not narrow. I don’t understand same-sex attractions because I don’t have those aspects myself but it’s very childish, arrogant, stupid, ignorant and evil to persecute and kill people that you don’t understand. It’s obvious some people here have some major growing up to do. And to the T-shirt wearer: don’t try to hide your immature homophobia or your Dittohead modern fascist tendencies by trying to snivel and backpedal by saying that the word was supposed to be ‘FIG’ not ‘FAG’. The shirt’s hateful intent was clear enough by the fact that Loudmouths With Hate Chowder has been selling it. This is plain ignorance with a juvenile 4th grade mentality of someone thinks he’s hot crap and knows it all but in real life is just a booger eating troublemaking geek. College (and just leaving home) is an opportunity to witness a wider reality and learn to accept what God made. I strongly advice Matthew Kovar to take advantage of this.

  9. Matt was wearing that same shirt while filming and generally creeping out students in November at a Socialist protest of Trump. He was there with other members of TPUSA OSU, incl the Brooks Brothers.
    Acting like you don’t know why the shirt means, or that you never noticed, is pure cowardice.

  10. Fig leaf is second letter.

  11. I would like to share information with Matt Dorsey and other OSU students about Turning Point USA. They pretend to be for freedom but use a variety of bullying techniques to shut down opinion. Recently, TPUSA started a scholarship program for students who move to eliminate free speech zones, de-funding liberal causes on campus, or work to remove textbooks that do not agree with their alt-right beliefs.

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