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Aussie 'Keep Calm' T-shirts glorify rape, murder

Asher Moses (via SMH) | March 6, 2013
An online T-shirt company founded in Australia is on its death bed after a purported "computer error" saw it advertise shirts on Amazon glorifying rape, murder and sex crimes.

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Outrage: Three of the "Keep Calm" T-Shirt designs that were allegedly caused by computer error.

 

An online T-shirt company founded in Australia is on its death bed after a purported "computer error" saw it advertise shirts on Amazon glorifying rape, murder and sex crimes.

The shirts, printed on-demand by T-shirt design firm Solid Gold Bomb, include dozens of offensive slogans such as "Keep Calm and Rape A Lot", "Keep Calm and Knife Her" and "Keep Calm and Kill Her".

I am extremely sorry for the trouble this carelessness caused. 

Michael Fowler, Solid Gold Bomb

Other designs include "Keep Calm and Grope On" and "Keep Calm and Choke Her", among many other variations of the World War II propaganda slogan "Keep Calm and Carry On".

One of the "Keep Calm" T-shirts on sale on Amazon.

One of the "Keep Calm" T-shirts on sale on Amazon.

Amazon was the firm's main distribution channel and the online retailer has now suspended its account after an uproar that saw Amazon accused of making money from domestic violence.

Solid Gold Bomb was founded in Melbourne by Michael Fowler, who said he was having his morning coffee on Saturday when the company's Facebook page began blowing up with threats and accusations of misogyny.

Fowler said he was receiving 300-1700 orders a day but since the scandal broke sales have dropped to 20 on Tuesday and as low as three on Monday.

He said he would struggle to make payroll this Friday and may have to shut down the company. The firm's Facebook and Twitter pages have been deleted after a torrent of abuse.

"It's devastating, the majority of our sales stopped," said Fowler, 41. "The only real sales channel we currently have is our own website."

But Fowler, who has plastered Solid Gold Bomb's website with an apology message, blames a "computer error" for the debacle.

He explained he wanted to create a range of parody "Keep Calm" T-shirts and so wrote a "three line script" that would harness electronic dictionaries and verb lists to automatically generate phrases for the shirts. He ended up with thousands of different options on Amazon through what Fowler claims is a "100 per cent automated" process.

Fowler said he had no idea the offensive T-shirts were on sale until the scandal blew up and he had cancelled orders he had received for the shirts since Saturday. But he could not be sure whether any of the offensive T-shirts were sold and printed in the year since they had been uploaded to Amazon. "It is possible that something slipped through," he said.

 

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