A US-based band has caused controversy by selling t-shirts featuring an image of the late founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, which is famous for its ‘God Hates Fags’, slogan, along with the words “good riddance”.
Back in 2008, LA band Touché Amore released a song called ‘wehatefredphelps.com’, and released a t-shirt to go with it featuing the face of Fred Phelps, adamantly homophobic founder of the church.
On the news of Phelps’ death last Wednesday, and by request of the band re-released the t-shirt, including the words “good riddance”, and sold a limited number. The proceeds from the profits were promised to the Human Rights Campaign.
In a statement following a negative reaction to the decision to re-release the t-shirt, the band said: “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.
“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.”
Outside the Kansas City concert of Lorde, the singer-songwriter who encouraged her fans to wear rainbow clothes on the announcement that the WBC would picket it, some held up signs saying “Sorry for your loss”, and “Live your life and be awesome”.