(Courtesy of Deathwish Inc.)
By Scott T. Sterling
With last week’s passing of Fred Phelps, the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, has come a firestorm of conversation and controversy. This includes the selling of a t-shirt depicting Phelps’ face above the slogan, ”Good Riddance,” by the L.A.-based post-hardcore band TouchÌ© AmorÌ©.
On Saturday (March 22), the band addressed the shirt, which has since sold out, on its Facebook page. Lead singer Jeremy Bolm defended the shirt, explaining that his issues with Phelps go as far back as 2008 with the song, ”wehatefredphelps.com.” The track came with a companion t-shirt featuring Phelps and the words, ”We’d love to see you in the ground.”
”I originally wrote the song after going to multiple WBC [Westboro Baptist Church] protests to talk to the members of the church about their stance,”Ê Bolm said. ”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.”
Bolm says that it was actually fans that asked the band to reprint the shirts, which he was more than happy to do. But for a good cause. Proceeds from the shirts will go towards the Human Rights Campaign.
”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,” Bolm writes.
As for whether it’s in bad taste, Bolm says it depends on who you ask. And if you ask him, it’s not: ”Poor taste to me is creating an evil cult to protest funerals, discriminate love, and who’s websiteis godhatesfags.com if you wanna just slightly scratch the surface.”
Read Bolm’s full statement statement below.
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.