Sunday, June 16, 2013

Army "brag bags"...

Today, someone left a miffed comment on a post I put up some time ago about Army "brag bags".  The commenter was upset that I had used her photo of an Army brag bag without permission.  To that commenter, I apologize.  The photo was sent to me by someone else and, you're right, I used it without permission.  I have since deleted the post and the photo(s).    

That being said, and without posting any offending photos (Google is your friend), I still do think the brag bags are in poor taste, particularly if they have a place to include a military spouse's rank.  People who serve in the military work hard to earn their ranks and they have plenty of places in which to properly display them on their uniforms.  If you're not currently serving or haven't been in the military, I don't think you should be wearing someone else's rank, even if it's on a handmade handbag meant to show your pride for your loved one.  The only time I would think something like that would be somewhat appropriate is if the person carrying the bag is or was a member of the Armed Forces.  Even then, I think they're tacky.

What's more, putting names and ranks on a handbag made of military uniform material broadcasts a lot of information that could potentially put you at risk. It's for that very same reason that DoD stickers on personally owned vehicles are going away... and cars brought abroad by servicemembers no longer have license plates identifying them as American owned.  Why?  Because those USA license plates and DoD stickers identify Americans to people who might want to hurt them.  Carrying something that boldly advertises you as connected to the U.S. military could actually put you in harm's way.  There are a lot of nuts out there.  If you have a spouse in the military, s/he has no doubt been briefed on OPSEC.  OPSEC applies to family members, too.

Sorry.  That is just my personal opinion and I stand by it.  In any case, people who serve in the U.S. military fight for our right to personal expression; so if you like the bag and carrying it doesn't violate any regulations or laws, by all means wear it with pride.  Just because I think it's tacky, that doesn't mean other people will.  Likewise, I will continue to post my opinions on my blog.  By the way, would you have been upset if I had used that photo in a post about how cute the bags were, complete with a link showing where to buy them?  My guess is you wouldn't.

I could also potentially argue that my use of the photo falls under the 'Fair Use' Rule in that I posted the photo for purposes of criticism and commentary and not for commercial gain.  But as I don't really care to get into yet another comment war with random visitors to my blog, I have decided to just delete the content.

Have a nice day.


  1. I came back online this evening to apologize for getting upset about your posting, after giving it some thought I felt that I had over reacted, then I see this post you directed at me.
    You can argue "Fair Use" rule all you want the point of the matter is you were using my picture of a product I make to talk down about it. That in it self is tacky and immature.
    You are correct that you have the right to your personal opinion but to use it to hurt someone else or their choices in life if very un-American.
    You are also correct that if the post had been a positive one I would not have had a problem at all with it, I would have shared it on my facebook, google, and other sites. I would have been happy to send followers your way (something I see you need).

  2. Actually no, I don't "need" followers. This is a personal blog; it's not a business. There are a few people who read this blog on a regular basis, but by and large it's just my personal spot on the Web where I express my thoughts. I don't solicit readers or comments, though I have met a few folks through this blog who have been friendly.

    As for your comment about my being un-American, I would also submit it's pretty un-American to deny someone the right to express their opinions, especially if it's done on a personal blog. I don't know you from Adam, so that original post certainly couldn't be personal. I'd have to know you for it to be personal. I will admit that post was probably snarky and I can see why that would be offensive to you... but I didn't re-read it after I saw your comment, so I don't remember exactly what I wrote the first time.

    As for your calling me "tacky" and "immature", well... I guess I've been called worse things by people whose opinions I care about far more than yours.

    If you don't like my posts, I would suggest you don't come back here to read this blog, especially since I took down the post that led you here in the first place.

    Good luck with your business.

  3. I admit the commenter has gall: to admit that she would have no problem with your using her picture without permission were you to have, in effect, advertised her product,was a bold admission. On the othr hand, perhaps the admission was motivated more by lack of intellect than by gall. I, like you, do not know the person from Adam, so I'm not in a position to estimate her intellect, although the fact that she presumably read your reasoning for not favoring the bags yet still didn't seem to understand it might be a clue as to her level of cognitive functioning. I don't really know.

    My mom was an Air Force brat. She says that advertising your spouse or relative's rank in any manner, whether by wearing a handbag with the rank emblazoned, or by telling another child that she could not sit at your lunch table because it was an "officers' children only" table in the school cafeteria, was and still is in exteremly poor taste, not to mention the potential safety breaches of apparrel with military rank adverstised.

    Spouses or other close relatives of military personel have every right to be proud of their military affiliate's service and even of his rank, but they have no right to wear it.

    I have few personal photos on my blog, but anyone is free to use any of them for any non-commercial purposes. For me to feel or state otherwise would be taking myself too seriously.

  4. Well, in all fairness, there are quite a few folks making these bags or selling the patterns for them. Obviously, a lot of people think they're cute and it's a trend that has caught on. I personally don't like them for the reasons I stated, but there are plenty of others who do like them and don't care what I think.

    Business people should expect that not everyone is going to like their product(s). Taste is subjective. Moreover, I doubt that my thoughts posted on a little visited blog is going to be a serious threat to their business. Seems to me the smart thing to do is to give some consideration to the thoughts posted here and determine if they have any merit. Perhaps negative feedback might help in making improvements to their product. Or perhaps not.

  5. i know from experience that not all doctor's spouses are either rocket scientists or overly burdened with common sense. It makes sense that the spouses of military personnel would display a similar ratio.

  6. I'm a career Soldier. I've been to a lot of posts and while I've seen ACU style bags in the PX and Clothing Sales stores, I've never seen a Bragg Bag (not even on Fort Bragg, if that is their origin place). However, I do think that there is a fine line between showing your affinity for the Military, and flat-out broadcasting too much information about yourself.

    Personally, I go out of my way to keep a low profile when I'm not in uniform. There are no stickers on my car window (other than the DOD Registration sticker that soon will go away)that show my rank, branch, special qualifications, or alma mater, for that fact. It's not good Operations Security (OPSEC), and it opens you up to targeting. When you consider that 80% of all intelligence is "open source", then perhaps you can see the value of reducing your signature. It doesn't take much.

    But it's a shame that Ms. Carter's responses were so emotional. There was a missed opportunity for what could have been some constructive dialogue between a businessperson and a product reviewer. Ms. Carter could have stayed and defended her product, explained her company's mission, and quite possibly gleaned some recommendations for improvement from an Army spouse. Even if knotty doesn't like Bragg Bags, I'm certain that there are others who do. I notice they are customizable, and I've seen pictures on Google of some bags that don't have any identifiable markings on them at all, except the ACU pattern. Ms. Carter could have added a "product tip" to her website that discussed OPSEC and provided recommendations for decorating bags that showed the person's military pride, without giving away personal information.

    Successful businesses adapt to change, and if they are smart, they solicit honest feedback from consumers. Otherwise, they will not remain competitive. I certainly wish Ms. Carter well with her business, but personally I wouldn't buy a Bragg Bag for my spouse.

  7. That was a most intelligent and thoughful reponse, D-503.


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