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The NSA Doesn't Think Your Joke Mug Is Funny

Nov 1, 2013
Originally published on November 1, 2013 4:49 pm
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And now the latest twist in the ongoing NSA story, this time in the form of a coffee mug. A satirical artist, Dan McCall, makes a living off creating political parodies and selling them on mugs and T-shirts and bumper stickers. And in response to the revelations of leaker Edward Snowden, McCall decided to put the NSA seal to good use with a few tweaks.

DAN MCCALL: I put "peeping while you're sleeping" on the logo, which is sort of an homage to a Snoopy Doggy Dogg song, which I thought was kind of funny.


SIEGEL: Below the logo, McCall printed: The NSA, the only part of government that actually listens. Well, here's the problem: He's done this before. Two years ago, the NSA says it issued cease and desist orders that stopped the sale of McCall's merchandise online. The NSA cites a law that no one may use the words National Security Agency, the initials NSA or their seal, quote, in a manner reasonably calculated to convey the impression that such use is approved, endorsed or authorized by the NSA without their consent.

Well, this week Dan McCall and the group Public Citizen sued the NSA in federal court on a First Amendment challenge.

MCCALL: I can't imagine anything that's more important than being able to criticize and even in this case parody the government agencies that we're supposed to own.

SIEGEL: McCall says he hasn't heard from the NSA yet, but he jokes he's pretty sure they have his phone number. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.