LA band Touché Amoré stir controversy by selling T-shirts that celebrate the homophobic pastor's demise
L.A post-hardcore band Touché Amoré have printed T-shirts celebrating the death of homophobic pastor and Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps. Tees with the words "Good Riddance" printed beneath a picture of Phelps's face were sold on their website, with all proceeds going to Human Rights Campaign, an American LGBT rights group. Despite the T-shirts selling out, some fans were not too impressed with the move, slamming the T-shirts as "poor taste" and "fucking stupid".
The band released a song called "wehatefredphelps.com" in 2008 after going to multiple Westboro Baptist Church protests and speaking to church members, and have said that the T-shirt is an updated version of their original demo merchandise. In a statement on their Facebook page, they explain:
"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... 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. 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 death of the homophobic church leader has split public opinion: how do you commemorate the death of such a reviled public figure (if at all)? Some, like Matilda child star and writer Mara Wilson, are openly pleased about Phelps' passing.
People are saying I should forgive Fred Phelps because it's the Christian thing to do. But I'm Jewish. We hold grudges.— Mara Wilson (@MaraWritesStuff) March 20, 2014
Others are opting for a more Christian approach: Lorde encouraged her fans to kiss and forgive members of the Westboro Baptist Church that were planning to picket one of her shows. Outside her Kansas City concert, fans tried to kill the church with kindess, holding up banners with the words "SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS" and "LIVE YOUR LIFE AND BE AWESOME".
Sadly, this served as no deterrent to the ever-determined WBC. Long-time member Steve Drain said of the banner: “I don’t even know what they mean by what they’re saying.” In anticipation of their Lorde hatefest, the church even covered "Royals", albeit with bizarre WBC-esque lines like "cause every song you sing is bloodlust / sinning / trashing your creator":
What do you think about Touché Amoré's T-shirts? Do you think capitalising on someone's death, however evil they were, is wrong? Tell us what you think here: