The “Keep calm and carry on,” British World War II motto has gained quite a fan following in recent years, with versions like “Keep calm and listen to music” and “Keep calm and think different” appearing on t-shirts and posts. But recently, shoppers browsing Amazon’s stores were shocked to see it glorifying rape on t-shirt prints that stated, “Keep calm and rape a lot.”
Massachusetts-based Solid Gold Bomb had put up these shirts for sale on Amazon UK as a third-party retailer. But following a barrage of complaints and angry tweets, the company has deleted its Facebook and Twitter profile and Amazon has pulled the t-shirts off its site.
One of the t-shirts pulled off Amazon UK
Apparently, the t-shirt company used an automated process that paired up the phrase “Keep calm” with a randomly generated verb to create these prints. Solid Gold Bomb issued an apology on its website and blamed the offensive slogans on a “computer error.”
Michael Fowler, the founder of Solid Gold Bomb, took responsibility for the debacle and apologised for it. He said he “relied on both computer-based dictionaries and online educational resources i.e. verb lists,” to create the slogans. “I then 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.”
Because the volume of combinations of words, slogans, styles, colours and sizes was huge, these offensive slogans slipped through the net, the company claims. “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 added.
Even as people shouted themselves hoarse on Twitter and Facebook on Saturday, it took Amazon a few hours before all the t-shirts were pulled off. A spokesperson for Amazon UK released a statement to Sky News that read: “I can confirm that those items are not available for sale.” However, the damage has been done.
It seems like a careless move on the part of both Amazon UK and Solid Gold Bomb as rage over misogyny is reaching a tipping point around the world. Slogans like “Keep calm and hit her” and “Keep calm and knife her” seem too scary to let slip even if you believe Solid Gold Bomb’s excuse. But if you consider other t-shirts the company offers, some of which state “Keep calm and skim me” or “Keep calm and bomb not,” you'll find they make no sense whatsoever.