I interrupt this delightful virtual book party for Bowling Avenue with this shocking news bulletin: knitters–our people! our friends!–ARE DESTROYING THE OLYMPICS.
By now you may have heard about a letter, from a legal clerk writing on behalf of the U.S. Olympic Committee, to Casey Forbes at Ravelry.com. The letter asks Ravelry to stop using the name “Ravelympics” because it infringes on the trademarked words and symbols of the Olympics. The full text of the letter can be found here.
The lawyer in me does not get too fluffed up when a trademark owner becomes aggressive, or even over-aggressive, about protecting a trademark. I may disagree with their judgment. I may suggest to the USOC that Major League Baseball feels that it’s a positive thing to have knitters organizing happy Stitch & Pitch outings to their ballparks. (But then again, we don’t called these events “Ravel-Aseball.”) They own the thing; it’s their call. I doubt that anybody would be too upset about changing the name of the Ravelympics to something like the Ravelry Games. But the letter went further. It said:
We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.
DENIGRATE? Reading that gratuitous bit of meanspirited nonsense made me–and apparently every other knitter who is on Twitter and/or Ravelry–mad. So, let me get this straight: organizing a fun, tongue-in-cheek worldwide knitting event to coincide with all of us sitting in front of our televisions watching the Olympic games (and commercials) is on a par with say, a doping scandal? It’s denigrating to the athletes? One starts to wonder if anyone reviewed this “clerk’s” letter. Nuanced, it ain’t.
The whole thing reminded me of one of Stephen Colbert’s “PEOPLE WHO ARE DESTROYING AMERICA” segments. You know, where he exposes the deep damage done to the social fabric and the Values We Hold Dear that is being done by, say, a lady who wants to air-dry her laundry to save energy, in a community that has a strict rule against clotheslines.
Stephen Colbert needs to expose this travesty! He needs to protect the pure and noble Olympics from tarnishment by association with millions of handknitters watching the games this summer.
In an optimistic but not too strenuous effort to make this happen, I tweeted Mr. Colbert. (He is @StephenAtHome on Twitter.) I went so far as to promise him that if he did a piece on the Knitters Who Are Destroying the Olympics, there would be a little something in it for him: a lifetime supply of handknit socks.
(I know I should have asked you all first, but in my enthusiasm I thought, “well of COURSE everybody will knit him socks if he does this great thing.” Twitter-knitters have been volunteering like crazy; it’s very heartwarming. Stephen’s feet are going to be toasty.)
The Internet says that Stephen Colbert wears a Size 11 shoe. (I’m not sure it matters. In the past Mr. Colbert has been very generous in donations to veterans’ and soliders’ causes, and I suspect that if he had too many socks he’d know where to send them to do the most good.)
The Internet says that Stephen Colbert’s fan mail address is:
c/o The Colbert Report
513 W 54th St.
New York, NY 10019
You know what to do. Tweet him, let him know you’re knitting a pair of socks for him. Let Stephen Colbert know that you’re a KNITTER WHO IS DESTROYING THE OLYMPICS.
P.S. Tip: There is a sock pattern NAMED IN HONOR OF STEPHEN COLBERT in our second book. I did not think of this until after I made Mr. Colbert the lifetime-socks offer. I don’t expect anybody to believe this but it’s true. Any sock pattern will do. Just make sure they’re your usual, lovely handknit socks.
P.S. Kind people have offered to drive a truckload of the socks to the Colbert Report’s offices. That would be awesome, and maybe that will happen. But for now, let’s keep it simple and send the man his socks in the mail.
P.S. Other kind people have suggested that we support Ravelry by helping with its legal costs to respond to the USOC’s letter. I am going to follow this on Ravelry and wait for Ravelry to tell us how we can help.
P.S. There is a Socks For Stephen group over on Ravelry.com. 77 members already. Join up and tell us what you’re knitting!