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Customer Discussions > Video Games forum

OT: Critics Demand Amazon Donation for Selling T-Shirts that Promote Abuse

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Showing 1-23 of 23 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 4, 2013 6:50:33 PM PST
user22 says:

Retail giant Amazon was asked to make a "substantial donation" to a woman's refuge on Saturday night after its UK website offered T-shirts for sale promoting rape and violence against women. The T-shirts, which were also manufactured and sold in the U.S., included slogans were spun off the phrase, "Keep Calm and Carry On", a famous British propaganda slogan and included shirts that read: "Keep Calm and Hit Her", "Keep Calm and Rape a Lot" and "Keep Calm and Rape Them" for $23-$26.

By mid-morning Saturday, Amazon had received hundreds of angry complaints and removed the pages, but Harriet Harman, the shadow Culture Secretary who called on Amazon to make the donation, told The Independent that the decision to sell the merchandise was "absolutely outrageous" and that "Domestic violence and sex offenses are not something people should make money out of. [Amazon's] supposed to be a public company. My suggestion is they give all profits they made from it to a women's refuge." She also added that Amazon could make a "substantial donation" to End Violence Against Women and Women's Aid.

On Saturday, Michael Fowler, the founder of Solid Gold Bomb, the Melbourne, Australia based company that produces the T-shirts in both the United States and Oxford, issued an apology on his company's website that in part read:

"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 it's 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."

Fowler further explained that the shirts were merely a result of a computer glitch, saying they were created by an "automated process" that "relied on both computer based dictionaries and online educational resources ie. verb lists" to generate a parody of "Keep Calm."

"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," wrote Fowler. "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."

He also said "These items sat online and on non-indexed servers for the last year and myself and our company had no idea of the issue" and that "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."

The company may have also had "no idea" that they sold other T-shirts that read: "Keep Calm and Knife Her," "Keep Calm and Choke Her," and "Keep Calm and Grope On." did not return Shine's calls for comment but an Amazon UK spokesperson said that the "Keep Calm and Hit Her" T-shirts were "not available for sale." In addition, none of the other shirts in question were available by Sunday afternoon.

Solid Gold Bomb had also removed its Facebook and Twitter accounts but on Sunday a new page on Facebook called "Solid Gold Bomb Sucks" with an Amazon logo serving as its profile picture surfaced with 33 likes so far and calls for the public to boycott the brand.

Other critics are taking to Amazon's website and Twitter account posting messages such as "Advocating violence against women is unacceptable. This product perpetuates sexism and is absolutely despicable." The former labor deputy leader John Prescott tweeted: "First Amazon avoids paying UK tax. Now they're making money from domestic violence." And Sophie Bennett, the campaigns and policy officer for human rights organization Object said: "These T-shirts are not harmless fun. The are dangerous and intimidating. In promoting rape and normalizing abuse, they create a context in which violence against women is acceptable."
Whether Amazon will make things (somewhat) right with a donation remains to be seen.


I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

Posted on Mar 4, 2013 6:55:39 PM PST
Okay while I find these shirts to be a tad bit offensive I don't think Amazon owes any of these organizations money because someone else was selling these shirts on their website.

Also what happened to free speech? While I don't agree with the message I don't think someone should have to cough up money because of this either. If I had to pay someone money every time I said something offensive I'd be one broke guy...

Posted on Mar 4, 2013 7:05:01 PM PST
FOGE says:
People have issues. What happened to the common decency we once had?

Posted on Mar 4, 2013 7:06:54 PM PST
I'm gonna stay out of the debate in this thread and just watch the screaming back and forth once a joke in poor taste is said.

We all know it's coming.

Posted on Mar 4, 2013 7:07:29 PM PST
DVvM says:
Amazon is right to have pulled the shirts, and they shouldn't have offered them in the first place. But I don't think they owe anybody for making a mistake here.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2013 7:17:15 PM PST
Anthony says:

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2013 7:35:28 PM PST
AndrewA says:
If it's classified as hate speech, I don't think it wouldn't have any free speech protection at all. I'll let the resident law expert explain if I'm right or wrong on that tho.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2013 7:39:54 PM PST
It's a shirt and it is clearly a joke/parody on something else. While it isn't in good taste I think people are getting riled up over something that doesn't require this sort of outrage or demanding Amazon pay tribute to charities to appease the masses.

I'm not condoning the message on the shirts nor would I wear one but I don't think this is something worth flipping out about or targeting Amazon because some people are uncomfortable with the joke. If you find something offensive then close the page and go look at something you find appealing. Leave the hate for someone who is stupid enough to wear these in public and not Amazon because a third party seller decided to sell something this stupid through their site.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2013 7:46:30 PM PST
AndrewA says:
I didn't say it required Amazon to pay tribute either. As far as I'm concerned, taking down the offensive shirts is more than enough recompense. I was just curious if free speech really covered that. I don't think parodies allow you to do absolutely whatever you want either, but again, I'm waiting for the expert to explain, as I really have little knowledge in this area.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2013 7:48:41 PM PST
Finger says:
I'm no lawyer, but I don't think "hate speech" is generally illegal at all. Like when those White Supremacists have their weird rallies, they're not only legal but are generally legally protected.

Vulgar, offensive, and full of hatred: Yes. Illegal: No.

Posted on Mar 4, 2013 7:54:14 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 4, 2013 7:54:23 PM PST
Zak Iarih says:
Not amazons fault. They saw em, they took em down, the end

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2013 7:54:26 PM PST
AndrewA says:
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has developed a number of methods to interpret the strict wording of the Constitution to include many other forms of expression.

Some limits on expression were contemplated by the framers and have been read into the Constitution by SCOTUS. In 1942, Justice Frank Murphy summarized the case law as follows; "There are certain well-defined and limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise a Constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous and the insulting or "fighting" words - those which by their very utterances inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace."[54]

Traditionally, however, if the speech did not fall within one of the above categorical exceptions, it was protected speech. In 1969, SCOTUS protected a Ku Klux Klan member's racist and hate filled speech and created the `imminent danger' test to permit hate speech. The court ruled in Brandenburg v. Ohio that; "The constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a state to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force, or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."[55]

This test has been modified very little from its inception in 1969 and the formulation is still good law in the US. Only speech that poses an imminent danger of unlawful action, where the speaker has the intention to incite such action and there is the likelihood that this will be the consequence of his or her speech, may be restricted and punished by that law.

In R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, (1992) , the issue of freedom to express hatred arose again when a gang of white racists burned a cross in the front yard of a black family. The local ordinance in St. Paul, Minnesota, criminalized such racist and hate-filled expressions and the teenager was charged thereunder. Scalia, writing for SCOTUS, held that the prohibition against hate speech was unconstitutional as it contravened the first amendment. SCOTUS struck down the ordinance. Scalia explicated the fighting words exception as follows: "The reason why fighting words are categorically excluded from the protection of the First Amendment is not that their content communicates any particular idea, but that their content embodies a particularly intolerable (and socially unnecessary) mode of expressing whatever idea the speaker wishes to convey."[56] Because the hate speech ordinance was not concerned with the mode of expression, but with the content of expression, it was a violation of the freedom of speech. Thus, SCOTUS embraced the idea that hate speech is permissible unless it will lead to imminent hate violence[57].


That's what wikipedia has to say about it in the U.S. From what I gather, the shirts would have to incite someone to fight to be unprotected. I could probably make an argument based on that, but I don't think it's what they really mean by their rulings.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2013 7:54:30 PM PST
I believe free speech has this covered since it isn't really hate speech. I believe hate speech covers a call for action and a deliberate attempt to rile people up to take action against certain groups based solely on hate. I could be wrong though so don't quote me on that but I believe that is what "hate speech" is referring to.

I'm not saying you are calling for Amazon to pay either, I'm just a little taken back that a stupid shirt is receiving so much attention and backlash. I get that it is in poor taste and you can bet I wouldn't be caught dead in one of those lol.

Then again in this country why am I surprised about overreaction to anything? This is the same country where a psycho path shoots up a school and the majority reaction is blame the gun.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2013 7:56:09 PM PST
So I was right in a sense about what hate speech covers. While this is walking the line I don't think a shirt with something like "Stay Calm and Rape her" falls under hate speech. I've seen far worse things on a shirt before which didn't get nearly this level of reaction.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2013 8:00:04 PM PST
AndrewA says:
I have no problem with people complaining about the shirts and wanting Amazon to not sell them. They are in pretty poor taste in my opinion. Anything beyond that is unnecessary. Amazon doesn't need to donate money if they don't want to. And of all the outrages I've seen people have in the last few years, this seems to be one more worthy of being outraged over than most. As for Newtown, I'm not touching that subject. I honestly doubt we can add anything new to that argument on either side, and I don't have the heart to fight over it.

And I believe by my mediocre research into hate speech that you are pretty much right. We could debate the finer points on whether or not those shirts are trying to incite violence based on hate, but I doubt that will get us anywhere either.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2013 8:05:40 PM PST
I'll admit I've got a crude sense of humor so I look at things from a different point of view than most. I'm cool with Amazon taking the shirts down, probably for the best given the outrage this is causing. Just seems like of all the areas for abuse against women groups to take up a fight this seems a little pointless considering there are cases like the one in Idaho (I believe) where the group of high school football players raped a girl wasn't being pursued to the fullest extent of the law would be a better use of their time than demanding Amazon donate money.

And dood this is the internet, it's all about not furthering anything.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2013 8:13:50 PM PST
AndrewA says:
Yeah but I actually like you and your posts and don't want to get into a no-win fight. Although it does seem we agree on the major points anyways.

I also don't think this is too small an issue to take up the fight in. I don't think anyone wants to be in a situation where a dude is sitting at a café wearing a keep calm and rape her shirt and a former rape victim walks in and sees it.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2013 8:18:59 PM PST
I don't want to see that either which is why I don't have a problem with the course of action taken thus far. I just feel like the efforts being put into hating on Amazon for allowing these shirts to be sold could be put to better use else where. What needed to be accomplished has been accomplished so why continue to drag it out?

Also I like you too <3 We should be friends with benefits. And by friends with benefits I mean friends who upvote each other you perv!

Posted on Mar 4, 2013 8:37:32 PM PST
user22 says:
So did any of you actually read the whole article? I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the manufacturer's ridiculous excuse for this happening.

"Hey I've got an idea, let's produce t-shirts featuring a common phrase...but here's the kicker, we'll substitute in some random computer-generated verbs. OOO YEAH! Oh, and who needs quality control? Why bother to review the output before we print, list, sell, package and ship? ...What's the worst that could happen?"

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2013 8:40:33 PM PST
DVvM says:
I could imagine wanting to automate literally every part of your business as a sort of mad-scientist fever dream, but I can't imagine any sensible person wanting to do this.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2013 8:41:59 PM PST
Isn't this how Skynet came to be?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2013 8:58:08 PM PST
AndrewA says:
Whoa now let's not rule out any benefits yet.

And I agree with the rest. Now that they've gotten the shirts gone, they should move on to more serious issues with violence against women. I'm starting to lose track of where we disagreed in the first place now.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2013 8:58:50 PM PST
AndrewA says:
I read the whole article. His excuse was so awful that it wasn't even worth calling out.
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Discussion in:  Video Games forum
Participants:  9
Total posts:  23
Initial post:  Mar 4, 2013
Latest post:  Mar 4, 2013

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