Are You Offended By This?

Update: The bobbleheads have been removed from the shelves at the Gettysburg Visitor Center.

I don’t think it’s right to sell a memorial of him, he assassinated President Lincoln,” said Patrick Nee, a 17-year-old who attends the Tatnall School in Wilmington, Del.

“Maybe there’s a place for these, but not here in Gettysburg,” said their 11th-grade history teacher, Ruth Hiller.

Harold Holzer, perhaps the most prominent Lincoln scholar alive, agreed Lincoln’s death should not be trivialized, nor his killer celebrated with such a souvenir.

“I’m not a fan of censoring things, but I do think there is an awfully sick marketing person who came up with this idea,” Holzer said when contacted for this story. “It’s not a joke that someone who is a murderer and a criminal is celebrated in any way.”

“I would say it’s pretty sleazy. It’s almost like promoting the assassination,” said battlefield visitor Tracy Chronister, of York. “Why would you celebrate that with a bobblehead?”

There is a market for those people who glorify and revel in our Civil War.  We went down this road a long time ago.  I am no more offended by a John Wilkes Booth bobblehead than I am about 90% of the crap that is sold in Civil War gift shops.  All of it trivializes.

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16 comments… add one
  • John Maass Mar 13, 2012 @ 8:06

    I am glad you posted this Kevin, I did not see it elsewhere.

  • Scott A. MacKenzie Mar 12, 2012 @ 16:48

    If you think this is controversial, check out Troy, Alabama’s monument to John Wilkes Booth. Its creator, Joseph Pinkney “Pink” Parker, a Confederate veteran, detested Lincoln so much that he commissioned a headstone to Booth. It read:

    “Erected by Pink Parker in honor of John Wilks Booth for killing Old Abe Lincoln.”

    According to the website below, it was so controversial in the day – in 1906 – that after his death in 1921 Parker’s descendants recut the marble to make it his headstone. This is amazing in the context of Jim Crow Alabama. So, take that, history!

  • Ken Noe Mar 12, 2012 @ 5:51

    My Gettysburg source informs me that the bobbleheads have been pulled from the shelves. Thanks, Visitor Center.

  • Will Stoutamire Mar 11, 2012 @ 10:56

    “I am no more offended by a John Wilkes Booth bobblehead than I am about 90% of the crap that is sold in Civil War gift shops. All of it trivializes.”

    Oh so true. Good point.

  • Rob Baker Mar 11, 2012 @ 10:47

    In the words of Brian from Family Guys, “that is as lame as FDR’s legs.”

    That being said….I am probably going to have to order one of those things. I mean, can you really have a museum selling that thing and not buy it?

  • Michael Douglas Mar 11, 2012 @ 8:24

    I find it offensive, but not enough to lose sleep over. Kind of like coming across a dog turd in the middle of the sidewalk on a morning stroll. I long ago ceased being amazed by the capacity of the American people for trivialization, tastelessness, crassness and vulgarity. I still lament it though.

    • Brad Mar 11, 2012 @ 10:11

      I agree with Michael Douglas’ comment. The capacity for Americans to sink to the lowest common denominator should never be underestimated.

      • Ray O'Hara Mar 11, 2012 @ 18:18

        That really doesn’t apply as the American People haven’t all bought these.

        • Michael Douglas Mar 11, 2012 @ 21:29

          Well, all southerners didn’t own slaves either, but that didn’t stop the Confederacy from waging war over it did it?

          • Ray O'Hara Mar 12, 2012 @ 7:34

            I don’t see the connection. Michael.
            and the CSA had to go to a draft to fill its ranks.

  • Pat Young Mar 11, 2012 @ 7:11

    Too soon?

  • James Harrigan Mar 11, 2012 @ 6:33

    Yes, this is revolting and offensive. Not the worst thing in the world, but that’s no excuse.

  • Ken Noe Mar 11, 2012 @ 5:55

    As someone said in the article, they wouldn’t sell an Oswald bobblehead at the JFK Library. This doesn’t strike me as much different. Yes, it’s only a new point on an arc that’s already declined steeply, but at some point good taste ought to kick in. Too, I wonder who they think will buy such a thing? There’s always a marketing plan.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 11, 2012 @ 6:50

      Hi Ken. First, thanks for bringing this to my attention.

      I agree that it is in bad taste, but I do think it is substantially different from an Oswald bobblehead given the scope of the “arc”. Kennedy’s assassination is not part of a broader event that has been romanticized and trivialized. That said, you will not find Oswald on my book shelf next to my Lincoln bobblehead. 🙂

    • Lyle Smith Mar 11, 2012 @ 11:46

      They might be selling an Oswald bobble head at the JFK library 150 years from 1963 though.

      I’m not really offended by this. Would people get offended over a John Brown bobble head at Harpers Ferry? Some would I’m sure, others would be like cool… it’s John Brown I’m buying it (which is the crux of the matter).

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