An Idaho artist’s attempt at humor and social commentary with a shirt design combining Idaho and California set off a war of words online between Gem State natives and California transplants.
On Thursday, Scott Pentzer posted photos of his daughter, Hannah, and son, Jake, modeling “Idafornia” shirts on the Boise Buy Sell Trade Facebook group. The artist said the shirts were intended to provide a commentary on the number of Californians moving to Idaho, most of whom are fleeing that state’s notoriously high cost of living and high taxes, according to a report.
The shirts were advertised as $12 for a short sleeve shirt and $15 for long sleeve.
Within hours the internet lost its mind. After two hours on the Facebook page, the post garnered 200 comments.
“I took pictures of my kids wearing [the shirts], and thought nothing of it,” Pentzer told SFGate.com. “I checked back in a couple of hours, and everyone was fighting each other.”
The shirt appeared to offend, if not, upset some.
“What in the absolute f— is this b——?” one commenter complained.
“That shirt’s not even good enough to wipe your butt with,” said another.
“Idahoans be hating on just Cali but every state hates Idaho,” retorted another.
The page reached 700 comments before the post was deleted. The debate then moved on to Boise’s Reddit page.
Some took to Twitter to chide California transplants for bringing their tastes and liberal politics with them.
“What happens when Californians flee their failed state but bring their failed political ideology with them? They transform Idaho into California. Cali used 2 b one of best states in the US, now it’s the worst. Won’t be long b4 Idaho turns from red to purple, then blue. #Idafornia,” one user wrote.
Pentzer, an Idaho native who lives in Nampa, said the shirt was intended to celebrate newcomers.
“They were angry at Californians, saying, ‘F— California,’ and the Californians were saying ‘F— you’ right back, and called Idahoans ignorant,” Pentzer told the Idaho Statesman. “I had to tell people I wasn’t a Californian, I’ve lived in Idaho my whole life.”
He detailed how Californians are changing the way of life in Idaho.
“A lot of [Idahoans] don’t make a lot of money, and we’re seeing housing prices driven up,” he said. “But things look nicer so there’s good and bad, but more good than bad, I think. But some people liked Idaho little, rural and run-down. Everywhere there were farms there are now shopping malls.”
Californians are leaving for other western states in droves in favor of cheaper housing, and, for some, a friendlier political climate, according to Bloomberg. Cities like Reno, Nev., and Boise are capitalizing on the exodus.
U.S. Census data released in December revealed around 661,000 people left California in 2017, most of them headed for Texas.
In a twist of irony, Pentzer said he sold only one shirt: to a woman from California.
“I only made 24,” he said. “That’s what’s so funny. My best friend printed them. I thought people would understand what I meant, but I see people missed the target. My wife said I should put a ‘no’ sign or the red circle with the slash, and people would know what I meant.”
“Basically, all I’ve done is open up a forum for a bunch of haters that spew hatred,” he continued. “That’s not at all what I intended. In that sense, I’m really bummed. I’m proud to live in Idaho. I just meant it strictly as a humorous social commentary.”