The practice of dropping product lines from stores due to certain related controversies has been going on forever, though in this day and age it seems to be happening with ever increasing regularity and for flimsier. There was the children’s bodysuit costume for Disney’s “Moana” that was pulled from shops because it was deemed offensive to Polynesian peoples for its artificial tattoo markings. There are the stores removing fashion items from Ivanka Trump’s brand for “complicated politicized” reasons. And then there’s this British shop that pulled a t-shirt of “The Walking Dead” merchandise owing to its printed slogan, a line from the show, supposedly being construed as being offensive due to a long-obsolete context.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the actor playing the character who said the line, is annoyed about it.

‘Racist’ slogan shirt

It all started when Primark, a UK department store chain, received a complaint from a customer that a “Walking Dead” t-shirt on sale was marked with offensive “racist” undertones. The complainant indicated the graphic design, a depiction of a baseball bat with the words “Eeny meeny miny moe”. “TWD” fans would know this as a line uttered by the sinister zombie apocalypse survivor named Negan (portrayed by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) during the TV show’s season 6 finale when he held prisoner a group of the main characters and was choosing which one of them to kill, as reprisal for the protagonists killing some of his men.

The execution was carried out by Negan using his trusty bat “Lucille” (and he kills another character in the season 7 premiere which picks up from that scene).

The “eeny meeny” line is a stock phrase coming from an old nursery rhyme used to choose things at random. Its first two lines are “Eeny meeny miny moe, catch a tiger by the toe” as used by Negan.

The Primark complainant, however, brought up how the rhyme was simply changed over the passing of centuries, and that the second line about catching a tiger was originally about catching an “N-Word”. In his explanation, the customer said, “This image relates directly to the practice of assaulting black people in America.”

Negan reacts

When Primark decided to take the complaint at its word and pull the “Walking Dead” shirt from its shelves (apology statement included), people began discussing the timing of the controversy.

The show’s season 6 ended April 2016, a whole 10 months before. The delay in any outcry for the apparently racist dialogue was jarring, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan ripped into the shirt controversy and pullout on his Twitter, somewhat sounding like Negan while he was at it. AMC, the network airing the zombie horror TV series, has yet to comment.