T-shirt mocking Osama bin Laden raises eyebrows

T-shirt mocking Osama bin Laden raises eyebrows »Play Video
HOQUIAM, Wash. - A community festival in Hoquiam is attracting attention with a T-shirt mocking Osama bin Laden.

Logging remains an important part of Grays Harbor County, and the loggers' Playday festival celebrates that heritage every September. And every year, a special shirt is made.

Known for being edgy, previous designs have mocked environmentalists and hippies.

"The shirt in no way, shape or form was intended to be racist, or bigotry and anything along those lines," said Don Bell, the festival T-Shirt creator.

But this year, a brouhaha erupted when Osama bin Laden made the cut on the front of the 2011 T-shirt, strapped to a log, with the caption -- "Osama bin Loggin."

Organizers say they got the idea because their Sept. 10 event is so close to the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and because bin Laden was killed by U.S. military forces in May.

"Bin laden was buried in a wood product, and that's what sparked the idea for the shirt, and that's what we have him doing," said T-shirt designer Christian Burgess, who helped design the logo.

But for a town that bills itself as "The friendliest city," for some, the T-shirt design hits all the wrong notes.

"I don't like the looks of it," said Aberdeen resident Sharon Gabryshak. "If he wasn't on the front, it would be better." Another resident, Jeanne Ward, printed several T-shirts that say, "My Hoquiam is a Hate Free Zone."

A Facebook page for the festival is lighting up with comments for and against the shirts, with accusations of racism, hatred and poor taste.

"It's very important to get the design to where you're going to sell as many as you possibly can," Burgess said.

She said she agrees the shirt is funny. "I don't think there's any racism behind it. So, for me, I'm not going to take it personally if somebody doesn't like it. Obviously it's a popular shirt. I say it's a win-win."

Bell says the money raised from selling the shirts at $15 apiece goes toward college scholarships for local students.

"Clothing can be fun, clothing can be disgusting, clothing can be anything you want," he said. "But this piece of clothing, however you want to take it, is all for the positive for our kids."

More than 350 shirts have already been snatched up, and hundreds more are set to be printed.

"I'd love to sell 10,000 of them," Bell said.

A controversial piece of clothing -- that could become a quick collector's item.

The Associated Press contributed to this report