By Heather Sheen


The law of unintended consequences tells us that people’s actions always create not only planned, but unplanned results. I encountered the law this week when Etsy joined the list of major online retailers banning the sale of the Confederate battle flag.

Etsy is a digital marketplace that offers ready-made, customizable, online shop space to small businesses. My Etsy-hosted store, Creative Cockades, is now in its 5th year. I just broke the “800 sales” mark. I do not sell the Confederate flag – or any flag. But my Etsy store is going to run off of Etsy shortly. Why? The law of unintended consequences.

I’m sure Etsy was only intending to put out of business the people selling Confederate flags. And after all, I’m sure they reasoned, those are just bigoted, racist people anyway so nobody will miss them.

Unfortunately, Etsy reckoned without their customers. Etsy buyers are apparently not the spineless sheep that Etsy management is. Some of them stand on principle rather than following the latest media-induced fad. So Etsy customers who know their history (read that, 75% of my customers) are now boycotting Etsy because of the flag-selling ban.

That means that any Etsy vendor who sells to flag-loving history buffs (like me) is now either going out of business or finding a new hosting site. Even if we don’t sell flags ourselves. Even if we’re not hateful, racist, bigots ourselves.

I’ve heard many people argue this week that Etsy “should be allowed to make their own decisions.” This is true. But let’s examine their decision (along with the decisions of Amazon, eBay, Walmart and others) a little more closely.

It Took Them Ten Years?

The Confederate battle flag has been around for 155 years. Etsy has been around for 10 years. (Walmart has been around 53 years, Amazon 21 years, eBay 20 years) And they’re just now getting around to banning the sale of the flag? Why now? Why not 10 (or 53, or 21, or 20) years ago?

Don’t blame it on the Charleston shooter, who was photographed with it. They didn’t ban the sale of the American flag – something that Dylann Roof was also photographed with. They didn’t ban the sale of Gold’s Gym t-shirts – another item that Roof was pictured with.

I’ve heard the tired response, “Well the KKK carried the flag.” The KKK – like Dylann Roof – also carried American flags. And they also carried the Christian flag and the Christian cross. And the KKK has also been around for 150 years.

So this all brings me back to my original questions: Why now - and why the Confederate flag?

They Hate Southern Values

The answer is that the liberal left hates Southern, conservative Christian values. When the riots broke out after the Ferguson shooting, leftists were happy. When Baltimore was torn up by the rampaging mob after a shooting, they were tickled pink. But in Charleston, people didn’t riot. They prayed. And they forgave the shooter.

There is nothing the left hates worse than a demonstration of the power of Christ. So they galvanized their troops and proceeded to find an issue to create a disturbance, since the Charleston victims refused to give them one. The Confederate flag is a symbol of Southern values, making it an easy target.

Which brings us back to the big online companies that are following lock-step what the media tells them to do. Etsy, eBay, Amazon and others have the right to ban selling anything they want – after a careful, thoughtful consideration of the issue. The decision to suddenly ban the Confederate flag does not fall into that category. This was a knee-jerk reaction by liberal-run companies who welcomed the chance to jump on another conservative-bashing bandwagon.

It’s Not About A Flag

Christ promised that the world would hate Christians, just as it hated Him. We’re seeing a graphic illustration of that right now. The families of the victims in Charleston have extended forgiveness and a call of repentance to Dylann Roof. They have exhibited love and grace toward this murderer. And the left hates it. So they attack our culture and the symbols of our culture.

The families of the Charleston victims are not blaming flags. They know that the shooter was motivated by sin and hate, not a flag. The flag itself didn’t make him shoot anyone. Banning the flag will not prevent future shootings. But these facts don’t seem to matter to the likes of Etsy, eBay and Amazon.

If Etsy does not reconsider their decision, I will have to move my shop elsewhere simply to keep my business alive. (And despite the hassle of moving, it will stay alive because I have wonderful, loyal customers.) But Etsy doesn’t care about the havoc they’re wreaking in my business, which they said in an ever-so-politely worded reply to my letter. They care about their agenda, which is to stamp out anything that smacks of biblical values – oh, excuse me, “hateful” behavior.

So maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s not the law of unintended consequences operating here. Perhaps this consequence – running off conservative Southern Christians like me – was intended all along.

But the Charleston victims offered grace, forgiveness and a call to repentance to the persecutor who shot their family members. Can I do no less when my persecutors are merely trying to ruin my business? They can attack my Southern Christian culture if they want – I will forgive them. But I will also call them to repentance and invite them to a closer knowledge of this Christ they hate.


Heather Sheen is a proud South Carolinian who provides research and reproductions of historical cockades, the “lapel pins” of the past. Her website is


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Mike Scruggs