Amazon.com and a U.S. clothing company are coming under heavy fire for advertising T-shirts with messages such as “Keep Calm and Rape Them,” “Keep Calm and Choke Her,” and “Keep Calm and Knife Her.”
The slogans appeared on clothing images from Solid Gold Bomb, a Worcester, Mass.-based firm which is now reportedly on its deathbed after a purported “computer error” saw it advertise the clothing glorifying murder and sex crimes.
Michael Fowler, founder of Solid Gold Bomb, said he’s struggling to make payroll this Friday and may have to completely shut down the company.
“It’s devastating, the majority of our sales stopped,” Fowler, 41, told the Age. “The only real sales channel we currently have is our own website.”
The Facebook and Twitter pages of Solid Gold Bomb have been deleted due to a flood of verbal abuse.
“I am sorry,” Fowler wrote in a formal apology on the company’s website. “As the party responsible within our company for scripting and creating this automated process that created the matched slogans for this ‘Keep Calm’ series, I apologize for the offensive response this has created across the world.
“No words can express how I feel about what has occurred and in no way do I condone or promote this serious issue. I will offer a more in depth explanation of cause to explain what and how this occurred. Both myself and our company and its associated Solid Gold Bomb brand have never had any intention of the spread of violent slogans or even poor taste humor T-shirts. This was a computer error of my creation and I accept my responsibility in the matter.”
He says he “generated word lists that were called using simple scripting methods to generate image based art of the modified slogans. These were subsequently scripted to position themselves on T-shirts and the associated product data was derived simply from the product name and the 16 word combinations like ‘On’ and ‘Off’ and ‘Him’ or ‘Her’ and so forth. Near all of these combinations either work or don’t work and are certainly non-offensive such as ‘Dream On’ and ‘Dance Off’ and so forth.”
Caroline Dinenage, a member of the British Parliament, is not buying the claim the shirts are accidental, telling the Daily Mail, “These are ridiculous, mindless products for anybody to attempt to sell. It is absurd to say they were manufactured in error.”
“As a father, husband, brother and son, I would never promote such product in our company and it was clear to see this when looking across the millions of T-shirts that we offer or can produce on demand,” Fowler said. “Had these items ever sold, we would have immediately pulled the series and are doing so on our own and Amazon channels worldwide. Currently, our listings have been fully removed and we are working to delete the entire parody series. Again, this was never my intention and I am extremely sorry for the trouble this carelessness has caused.”
Online criticism of Solid Gold Bomb as well as Amazon has been harsh to say the least:
- “I’m disgusted by this product, and can think of no good reason for such a slogan. That someone thought it was a good idea disturbs me somewhat.” (Andrew Banks)
- “You guys are kidding with this shirt’s slogan, right? In what universe is that shirt remotely acceptable in civilized society? Gross.” (Devin)
- “In what society is this even acceptable? and why is Amazon listing these? there is no possible justification including a misplaced sense of irony for wearing a T-shirt with this message on it.” (Anonymoosh)
- “I am sick and tired of the perpetuation of rape culture. Can you not think for one second about how assault victims feel when seeing something like this ‘rape them’ T-shirt? Can you not see how this contributes to the view that it’s okay to rape other people!? This is not the kind of product I expect to see on Amazon. Vile and disgusting.” (NinetyWt)