Touché Amoré met some backlash (surprisingly) after they reissued their “Good Riddance” shirt following the death of one-time Westboro Baptist church leader Fred Phelps. Phelps, who left the church in 1980, was most widely known for organizing the homophobic “God Hates Fags” protests. Even Phelps’ own family didn’t seem particularly disturbed by his passing. But some commenters seemed to take offence, calling the shirt “tasteless” for fighting hate with hate. Just the idea of advertising Phelps’ face on a shirt was enough to upset some. “I understand the sentiment of this shirt, but why would anyone want to wear that guy’s face on their chest?” asked one fan.
The shirt, which you can see below, seems to have sold out completely (or been taken out of stock), with a percentage of the proceeds going to the Human Rights Campaign.
In response to the backlash, Touché frontman Jeremy Bolm issued the following statement on the band’s Facebook page:
Let’s talk. While we were slightly surprised by the controversy our “Good Riddance” t-shirt created, we understand the points made by those of you who looked down on the design. We should have known many of you weren’t aware of the background of the shirt and it’s story.
Let me explain a little. We originally created this shirt in 2008 as a companion to the song from our demo that year called “wehatefredphelps.com.” The original shirt had a line from the song, “We’d love to see you in the ground,” in the place where “Good Riddance” is now. The size of the words align with the original design. Kids seemed to like it and it fit with the angst of the band. I originally wrote the song after going to multiple WBC protests to talk to the members of the church about their stance. After recording the song I even tried giving them burned copies and lyric sheets when they protested a Marilyn Manson concert here in LA in 2009.
Here we are years later, and the man has died. We got messages saying we should reprint the design, so we thought “we'll do an updated version and have the proceeds go to benefit what the man lived the last years of his life trying to dismantle.” We feel there is beautiful irony in selling an image of a bigot and using the profit towards achieving equality for exactly what they hated. Which is why all net profit (money earned after cost/printing) will be going to http://www.hrc.org/
Is it in poor taste? Depends on your taste buds. Poor taste to me is creating an evil cult to protest funerals, discriminate love, and who's website is godhatesfags.com if you wanna just slightly scratch the surface.
The last remaining shirts will be gone sometime tonight or tomorrow, so THANK YOU for all of you who picked up the shirt and supported the cause.
Lastly, I firmly believe that art is best when it creates a public discourse on subjects that matter. So for us to see people talking about these sorts of things is exciting regardless, and we thank you for the conversation.
– Jeremy / TA”
On a lighter note, we recently went record shopping with Jeremy.