Case in point, the civil war themed t-shirt that are now circulating in Lawrence (Kansas) and Columbia (Missouri) in anticipation of the "Border War" to take place between our two teams in Kansas City on Saturday. In case you're a little rusty in either your knowledge of college rivalries or your civil war history, a refresher:
"You can have your Ohio State v. Michigan or Alabama v. Auburn, but the last time I checked nobody from Columbus ever went to Ann Arbor and systematically executed every man they could find while burning the town to the ground. . . . But that did happen in 1863 in Lawrence, KS when William Quantrill led his band of "Bushwackers" to the "Jayhawker" stronghold and went on a 4 hour rampage that would become known as the "Lawrence Massacre" - one of the ugliest episodes of the brutal 10+ years of fighting along the Kansas and Missouri border. While the Civil War has become the South v. the North in most people's minds, the fighting in fact began as a violent guerrilla conflict between the abolitionists in Kansas and the slave holding Missouri settlers . . . ." (See the rest of the article here.)
In commemoration and perhaps in hope of a symbolic repetition of that same massacre (popularly known as Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence), some clever and most certainly un-politically correct Missouri fans have made the t-shirt pictured to the left. In case you can't tell (you can click to make it bigger), it has a picture of historic Lawrence, still smoking after the raid. More controversial, perhaps, is the quote on the back bespoke by Mr. Quantrill himself, which says, "Raise the Black Flag and Ride Hard Boys. Our Cause is Just and Our Enemies Many." Of course, while today's "cause" is football, the original "cause" most people have suggested this refers to is slavery.
Not to be outdone, my dear Kansas Jayhawk fans have come up with the answering tee pictured to the right (again, click to make it bigger). In case you aren't familiar with the character on the front, he is none other than John Brown, famous Kansas abolitionist who met his end at Harper's Ferry. Every history teacher who's ever taught me about this man has said something along the lines of, "He certainly had the right idea, but his methods...hmmm." The "hmmm" probably relates to the fact that, among other things he led the Pottawotomie Massacre wherein several slavery proponents were killed rather brutally with a few being hacked to pieces for good measure.
So pretty much either way you go, these weren't the nicest guys. Nonetheless, KU and (presumably) MU fans are sporting them on their t-shirts, reciting 150 year old history on message boards, and generally each arguing that the other's shirt is the more offensive one.
But enough with the history lesson--for this week's poll:
Do you think these shirts are offensive? Or are they just a witty new twist on a very old rivalry? Is it OK to get a little rowdy in the name of your favorite team? Is there a point where it crosses the line? Where and when?
Comment and discuss.