As often happens with iconic sayings, a T-shirt maker has taken the well-known phrase “Keep Calm And Carry On,” words first produced for a WWII propaganda poster and well, changed it. The company is in hot water for featuring controversial twists of the phrase including, “Keep Calm And Hit Her” and other pro-domestic violence, rapey slogans.
Amazon pulled the shirts from sale online and the company has since issued a lengthy apology letter.
The T-shirt company says it’s all the fault of an automated computer algorithm that produces sayings like “Keep Calm and Rape a Lot” among others. On Saturday, Amazon announced it wouldn’t be selling the “Keep Calm” shirts and the company responsible has shut down its Twitter account over the outrage.
While the T-shirt company pulled some of the aforementioned offensive items right away, it took a bit longer to delete the others, reports The Guardian. As of this morning it appears that all parody versions of “Keep Calm,” offensive and otherwise, have been removed.
The founder has since issued an extensive apology and explanation regarding the computer algorithm that created the shirt slogans, culled from word lists using scripting methods. He calls it a “computer error of my creation” and accepts responsibility for the controversy.
The apology reads in part:
As the volume of combinations of words/slogans/styles/colours/sizes are well into the millions, a volume of computers were used to do this entirely in a cloud type environment. The ultimate filelist generated created the base data and the core of the problem was certainly the fact that certain words both individually and in combination were or became offensive. This was culled from 202k words to around 1100 and ultimately slightly more than 700 were used due to character length and the fact that I wanted to closely reflect the appearance of the original slogan graphically.
These items sat online and on non-indexed servers for the last year and myself and our company had no idea of the issue. We simply do not produce poor humour or offensive products and are primarily known for our sporting related products and icon series that are based around similar techniques. 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. 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.
Amazon acts to halt sales of ‘Keep Calm and Rape’ T-shirts [The Guardian]