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Firm sorry for 'keep calm and rape' shirts

06 March 2013, 08:40

Sydney - A T-shirt company has issued an apology for advertising tops with slogans such as "Keep Calm and Rape A Lot" and "Keep Calm and Kill Her", with its founder saying on Wednesday the firm may go under.

Solid Gold Bomb said the offensive lines were created via an automated computer process which relied on online dictionaries to create the versions of the slogans based on the British World War II motto "Keep Calm and Carry On".

"I apologise for the offensive response this has created across the world," Solid Gold Bomb's Australian founder Michael Fowler said on the firm's website after the shirts advertised on Amazon unleashed outrage.

"No words can express how I feel about what has occurred and in no way do I condone or promote this serious issue."

Fowler told The Sydney Morning Herald that Amazon was his company's main distribution channel and since the scandal broke sales had dropped from 300-1 700 orders per day to as low as three in a single day.

"It's devastating. The majority of our sales stopped," Fowler told the paper, adding that he may have to shut down the company. "The only real sales channel we currently have is our own website."

The firm's Facebook and Twitter pages have been deleted after a torrent of abuse, he added.

Written apology

Fowler said he had never intended to create offensive T-shirts, but he took responsibility for producing the computer script which harnessed online dictionaries and other resources to generate the slogans.

He said while the computer programme had produced mostly inoffensive word combinations such as "Keep Calm and Dance Off" or "Dream On" it also threw up phrases such as "Knife Her", "Choke Her" and "Grope On".

Fowler said he was not sure if any of the shirts, which were printed on demand, featuring the violent slogans had been sold.

"As a father, husband, brother and son, I would never promote such a product," he said in his written apology.

"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.

"I am extremely sorry for the trouble this carelessness has caused."
Solid Gold Bomb was founded in Melbourne in 2008 but later that year moved its headquarters to London. It is now based in the United States but Fowler lives in Australia.


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