There were two different types of tweeting happening during the 85th Academy Awards. Those that were interested in tweeting uplifting and positive things about the people, dresses, looks and general festivities and those who wanted to tear everything apart and tweet nothing but “snark and shock” to get a reaction. Satirical website, The Onion, won that contest hands down with the worst tweet of the night. While I refuse to repost it because I think it was vile and disgusting, I will tell you that it referred to 9-year old nominee Quvenzhane Wallis as a “c-word”. Yep, you are reading that correctly. Whomever runs the social media account at The Onion found this to be something that was “satirical” and that their followers would embrace.
I am not a follower of The Onion. I don’t find their brand of humor entertaining in any way shape or form, which is why I don’t read anything that they publish. But we live in a country where Freedom of Speech is a cornerstone of our foundation. They are entitled to say whatever they want – even as offensive and repulsive as we may find it. That’s what Free Speech is all about. As the fictional President Andrew Shepherd said in “The American President”, Freedom of Speech is about defending the rights of a man to say the things that you would spend your entire life opposing. I don’t want anyone telling me that I can’t believe what I believe in, and be able to voice those beliefs and opinions in any way I choose. I don’t want anyone to come to me, telling me that I cannot write in my blog because they find it offensive in some way. If I offend you – don’t patron my blog. The same should be true for anything that doesn’t align with your personal beliefs or morals. We live in a land of options – find another one. Change the station. Change the channel. Move on. But don’t tell me that I don’t have the freedom to say it. Our Constitution says otherwise.
I’m not saying that it was wrong for The Onion to issue an apology for what they said. But how many other rude and ignorant comments did they make last night? Their CEO, Steve Hannah, in his statement said that the comment in question was “crude and offensive —not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting.” This is what they do, people! They aren’t going to change what they are doing because of this. In fact, they probably got MORE followers because of the press that has surrounded this incident.
Let’s have a discussion about why women seem to always be the target of these “biting” comments. Or why a 9-year-old girl wasn’t allowed to enjoy something that most of us only dream about without being the butt of a” joke”. Or why the Arts in our country aren’t supported more. But let’s stop having a conversation about why The Onion did what they did, and what should be done to them because of it. It’s Freedom of Speech – whether we like it or not.