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Coming right on the heels of retailer Zara’s unfortunate pajama top that reminded some folks of the Holocaust, Philadelphia-based apparel company Urban Outfitters has had to apologize today after putting out a sweatshirt pretty much everyone is offended by: The Urban Outfitters “Kent State University” sweatshirt splattered with what looks like blood.

Immediately, Urban Outfitters pulled the product and apologized after BuzzFeed published news of the shocking item. Kent State University responded to the tawdry display with their own statement, saying in part that the university took “great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit.” KSU went on to say that the sweatshirt was “beyond poor taste and trivalize[d] a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.”

Kent State University was talking, of course, about the Kent State massacre that occurred on May 4, 1970 when “members of the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd of Kent State University demonstrators, killing four and wounding nine Kent State students.” The students were peaceably assembled and protesting the Vietnam War. Even H.R. Haldeman, infamous aide to President Richard Nixon, viewed the Kent State massacre as having a direct, and negative, impact on Nixon’s presidency.

The shootings at “Kent State began the slide into Watergate, eventually destroying the Nixon administration,” explain academics Jerry M. Lewis and Thomas R. Hensley in a paper on Kent State’s website. “The shootings have certainly come to symbolize the deep political and social divisions that so sharply divided the country during the Vietnam War era.”

Urban Outfitters released a bizarre, astonishing explanation for their stupidity. “It was never our intention to allude to the tragic events that took place at Kent State in 1970 and we are extremely saddened that this item was perceived as such.”

In addition to being offended themselves that everyone else is offended, Urban Outfitters doubled down on their “Sorry Not Sorry” by insisting that “the red stains are discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray.”

So there you have it: Urban Outfitters had no idea that splattered red discoloring might be an inappropriate look for a sweatshirt from a college that, for four decades now, has been primarily known across the nation as the place where four students were shot to death.

About The Author

Contributing columnist

Josh Kruger is an award-winning writer and commentator in Philadelphia. His @PhillyWeekly column, “The Uncomfortable Whole,” took the 2014 First Place Spotlight Award for weekly newspaper commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists and the 2014 Second Place Award for weekly newspaper commentary in the United States and Canada from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. He also blogs daily for PW on various topics including queer culture and news, mass transit, politics, crime, drugs, HIV/AIDS, civil liberties, activism, media and everything else Philly.

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