In stunning news, an extremely ill-advised tweet sent out by Roseanne on Tuesday has resulted in the immediate cancelation of her newly-revived show on ABC. As much as we might disagree politically with former (and, come to think of it, current) Obama consigliere Valerie Jarrett, and as deliriously happy as we might be that she isn’t anywhere near the White House these days, I’m sure we can also agree that Roseanne’s description of her as a genetic combination of the Muslim Brotherhood and an “ape” is indefensible. Though Roseanne apologized quickly, it was inevitable that her show, as well-executed and timely and popular and lucrative (and FUNNY) as it is, would be canceled, considering the racist connotations of a remark like that).
Reaction was immediate. FOX News media analyst Howard Kurtz described this as “a spectacular self-immolation by Roseanne Barr after an equally spectacular comeback.” Cast member Wanda Sykes announced that she would not be coming back to the show. Sara Gilbert, who plays –- played –- one of her three adult kids, tweeted that the comment was “abhorrent” and not reflective of “the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show.” Her talent agency, ICM Partners, has announced that it will no longer represent her. Roseanne was already known for being controversial and edgy, but this was obviously over the edge.
Predictably, anti-Trump media outlets are already trying to tie the President and all his supporters to this comment (and his compulsive Twitterstorms don’t help). Joe Scarborough of MSNBC implied as much when he tweeted, “Even in the Age of Trump, there are red lines that can never be crossed. This is one.” Get ready for an escalation of “Trump-is-a-racist” commentary –- which is also indefensible, though the media will get away with it as usual. Roseanne’s stupid remark just made it easier for the media to perpetuate their lie.
I’m not defending Roseanne’s aforesaid stupid remark in any way, but it’s hard to talk about this without mentioning the double standard for those on the left and right. To cite just one example, Kathy Griffin was condemned for tweeting a horrific picture of herself holding the bloody severed “head” of President Trump, and her career appeared to be over for a time, but now she’s back on tour for her many fans, who eat up that sort of thing and love her for being so viciously anti-Trump. Over the years, I've seen numerous left-of-center tweets that were racist and sexist (and, of course anti-Christian), but as they were aimed at conservatives, they got little if any attention. So, will Roseanne ever live this down? Not likely; odds are almost overwhelming that with this she has blown her career to dust.
There’s something about Twitter that INFECTS a lot of people, perhaps millions of us, like an insidious virus that destroys the pathways between the brain and the fingers. He who lives by the Tweet can die by the Tweet. The one way to fight the infection is to take “the pause that refreshes” and think before tweeting. The goal is not to avoid offending all people --- this will not in your wildest dreams be possible, or even necessarily desirable --- but to make sure you’ve chosen yours words carefully to communicate exactly want you intend to say while anticipating and accepting any potential consequences. Anyone who can’t do that should do what Roseanne says she has now done (too late): Leave Twitter.